Since we got back from Transylvania I am obsessed with recreating all the dishes we had there. Summertime is  the best time to visit for someone who is a big time foodie    ( like me), since that is the time when everything is oh so deliciously fresh and organic and right from the garden. While at home visiting we had this Stuffed Cabbage dish/soup twice 🙂 It is one of my all time favorite dishes. Do you like cabbage?

Here is what you will need:

  • 1 medium size cabbage
  • 1 pound of ground meat ( I use pork for the extra juicy fatty flavor, but it can be done with dark turkey or chicken too)
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1/3 cup of rice
  • 1/3 cup of chopped onions
  • 1 bunch of fresh dill
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 – 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar ( depending on how tart you like your food)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
First, there will be a pot needed with boiling water and a pan for sautéing onions and the bacon. Put those two to cook. It will smell like heaven. It will be done when the onions are soft and the bacon will be small, juicy and almost crispy. Set aside to cool.
When the water boils slowly lower the cabbage into it. The goal is to loosen, soften and peel back the cabbage leaves that we will later stuff. So, lower cabbage into the water. Wait for couple of minutes (1-2) and then gently take it out with a slotted spoon. Set it on a plate to cool. When you can handle it peel back and set aside the outer leaves. You want the leaves to be flexible, but not over cooked (they will break too easily then). When leaves are cool, thin out the back thick part of the leaf with a knife (this makes the leaf thinner and easier to roll up).  Sort the best leaves to use first, you will have extra leaves at the end. Repeat. Save the hot water for later.
Repeat until you will have at least 8-10  leaves to stuff. That will be enough if you work with one pound of meat. if you have more stuffing you will need 1. a bigger cabbage or
2. two smaller cabbages 🙂
While the leaves are cooling let’s make the stuffing.
Put the pound of ground meat in a bowl. Add the cooled bacon/onion mixture, add the rice, salt, pepper  and a 1/4 cup freshly chopped dill. Mix.
Next step is stuffing the cabbage leaves. It is not as tricky as it looks 🙂
Take one cabbage leaf and put it into the palm of your left hand, stem end towards your wrist. Just like this:
Now with the other hand take a small handful of the stuffing and place it at the end of the leaf, towards your wrist.
With your right hand fold the leaf halfway over the stuffing from right to left. This will secure the stuffing from the right.
Now start rolling the leaf up from your wrist towards the fingers. Hold tight and roll up tight.
When there is no more leaf to roll, it will look like this:
Now hold the roll upright in your left hand and tuck in the inner part of the leaf into the center of the pork roll. This will secure the other end of the roll too.  It should look like this:
Repeat with the remaining stuffing and leaves.
Next step is to chop up all the cabbage that you didn’t use for stuffing and the leftover leaves too ( if any).
Put a layer of chopped cabbage into a pot. Put the stuffed rolls on top. Cover it with another layer of cabbage then put dill all over it for wonderful flavor. I also sliced up two heirloom tomatoes and put in on top for eye candy and for extra flavor. Pour the water that you boiled the cabbage in over it until almost covered.
Cover it with a lid and simmer it for 1 1/2 hours.
When it is cooked it should look like this:
Last step: whisk the egg in a small bowl with the flour and slowly add some broth to it from the soup. When smooth and there are no lumps in it, pour it all over the soup. This will make it creamy and nicely rich.
Done! After adding the thickener let it boil one more time and then turn it off. After about 5 minutes you can stir in the vinegar.
This soup is a really great example of simple, rural, Transylvanian cooking. It is healthy, tasty and it smells soooo good. We usually eat it with good crunchy bread, sour cream on top and lots of jalapenos 🙂
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