Coming from a city in the midwest with a large Polish and Ukrainian population, this dish would be considered a staple in either ethnic home. I've learned that everyone creates their own version and whether you call it holopchi (hole-op-chee) or cabbage rolls, it's all good. Some prefer a combination of more rice to meat while others do the exact opposite. Some people add bacon, others don't. It's not exactly a Rachel Ray 30 minute special, but the extra time you spend is so worth it, especially if you're making alot. These freeze well and when reheated, you'd think you just made them. They also warm up well in the microwave.
Usually in the spring, when the beet leaves are young and small, a dish called beet leaf holopchi is made filling the young beet leaves with dough and smothering them in a creamy dill sauce. At first I thought this sounded a little gross, but, I guarantee you, it's highly addictive. I'll find and create this recipe as the warmer weather comes and vegetables begin to grow again in our part of the world.
I'm sharing my personal recipe and I'm sure holopchi purists may take issue but hey, it's my blog and I'll fry if I want to.
1 medium size head green cabbage
3 lb ground meat (I used 1 lb each of minced beef, veal and pork)
1 large onion diced very small
1 1/2 cups raw rice - any rice will do (I've even used minute rice and it works)
1 28 oz can of tomato juice
salt and pepper to taste
1. Place minced meat, eggs, raw rice, salt and pepper in a bowl.
2. Saute finely minced onion until just lightly carmelized.
3. Add to bowl and mix well until all ingredients are combined.
1. With a sharp knife, carefully cut a square around the core. If you don't do this it'll be such a pain to get the leaves off.
2. Place cabbage in a stock pot and add water as high as you can without giving it cause to boil over. If you can, put a lid on the pot.
3. Bring water to a boil and turn down to medium. As the steam works it's way through the cabbage, the leaves will begin to loosen up.
4. With a pair of tongues gently take each leaf off one at a time and place in large colander to cool.
5. Cut away the centre rib from each leaf. I started doing this and then just got impatient and managed with the rib in. When it cooks it'll all soften up anyways.
6. Fill each leaf with a heaping tablespoon of filling - sometimes more if the leaf is very large. Place the filling in the centre of the leaf on the portion that's closest to you.
7. Start to roll away from you, folding the sides to the centre and continue to roll
8. Repeat until you've used up all the filling and as many of the leaves as you can.
9. Pour scant amount of tomato juice on bottom of the roaster to just cover.
10. Line with leftover cabbage leaves. This keeps the cabbage rolls from potentially burning on the bottom
11. Add all the cabbage rolls to the roaster and add the remainder of the tomato juice.
Note: I find I like more tomato juice especially for a reheat when alot of the juice seems to disappear so I added more. I didn't have any more tomato juice so I used V8 and it was fine.
12. Cover roaster and cook in 350 F oven for 2 - 3 hours. After 2 hours, I checked them and they weren't tender enough so I just turned the heat down to 325 F and left them for another hour. That was the magic.