Hungarian Cabbage Rolls

"This is a labor intensive recipe, gather some friends/family to help. Have the butcher grind the pork for you. See note in recipe. Ground Pork, a ton of garlic, smokey ham hocks, what's not to love. This recipe makes a lot of cabbage rolls, but not to worry. They freeze extremely well, and after you taste these, you will want a freezer full. To Freeze, place 3 cooked cabbage rolls and some of the cooked saurkraut/cabbage mixture in a freezer bag and freeze. Reheat in microwave and add some fresh sour cream, better than the first time."
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  • Get out your big turkey roasting pan or other large roasting pan with lid.
  • Cook both cabbages in boiling water, gently peeling off large outer leaves as they become pliable. Continue peeling off leaves until you have at least 25. Remove cabbage from pots and cool. Core when cool, and save the rest.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine ground pork (NOTE: the reason for using a ground shoulder roast is because you want more fat than in normally found in ground pork, but if already ground pork is your only option, go ahead and use it, but mix in about 1/2 cup Crisco or other solid shortening with pork).
  • So, combine pork, garlic, uncooked rice, and paprika. Add enough hot water to make mixture workable, but not mushy.
  • Now for your cabbage leaves, lay spine side up on cutting board, and with very sharp knife, trim the spine to make it thinner. Start at the top, in the leaf, and trim very gently until you get to the bottom where you can trim more deeply, to get a uniform thickness. Be careful not to puncture leaf or trim too deeply. This step makes the leaves so much easier to roll. Flip leaves over so that the “cup” side is up.
  • Once your leaves are ready to roll, place a good 1/2 cup of pork mixture in your hand and shape into an oblong roll, about 1-1/2 inch thick and 3-4 inches long. Place this in center of cabbage leaf and make the roll, folding bottom up, then sides in, then roll to top. (kinda like a burrito) Continue till all filling and leaves are used.
  • Coarsely chop your remaining cabbage.
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • In bottom of roasting pan, place chopped cabbage and sauerkraut and mix together well. Lay your ham hocks all around, evenly distributed, and kinda poke them down into kraut and cabbage mixture.
  • Now you place your cabbage rolls on top of all. Stagger placement so that the rolls aren’t directly on top of one another.
  • Pour hot water over the whole thing, just to barely cover.
  • Put cover on roaster and bake at 350 for 2-1/2 to 3 hours until your rolls are quite firm.
  • To Serve, place some kraut cabbage mixture on plate, top with cabbage rolls, usually about 3 per serving, and top with sour cream to taste.
  • NOTE: You may want to have a 3rd head of cabbage on hand, just in case you can’t get enough leaves off of two to use all your filling.

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  1. Excellent recipe .. The only thing I do different is the following: A week before cook date .. I place cabbage leaves and chopped cabbage in large jars with plenty of garlic, whole black pepper & salt .. top up to about 4" below full mark and place a thick piece of fresh bread such as french loaf or vienna bread (for the yeast effect) on top then seal tightly. The fermenting process takes from 3 days to a week, then the leaves are softened up and ready to stuff..using this method eliminates the need for saurkraut.As you said, a labor of love and yes! well worth it .. We have this dish every Christmas as well as Easter .. and I am usually the one elected to cook them.
  2. My great grandparents came to this country from Hungary and it's been a family tradition to have cabbage rolls for Easter dinner. We end up with at least 2 gigantic stock pots full of cabbage rolls and we boil them on the stovetop in tomato juice. It takes at least 4 hours, but it is so worth it! We do always use the ham hocks but we also add a smoked sausage or kielbasa-type meat and it gives it more of a smoky flavor... we also use a mild ham instead of pork. Layer the spines that you trimmed off the cabbage on the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking (and also some kraut) and we also put some on the top of everything. Last year we experimented by using half brown rice and it tasted just as terrific. I don't think I could survive a year without this stuff! Our family has never used sour cream or garlic in the recipe. Experiment to see what tastes good to you. :)


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