Some foods from childhood just stick with us. For Allan Beargie, one of them has been golabkis, known more commonly as stuffed cabbage rolls.
Beargie, of Polish descent, ate a lot of them while growing up in a Cleveland neighborhood called Slavic Village. He still likes them, though he often chooses to tweak the recipe.
In this version, he has added vegetables and lamb. Although tomato soup and ketchup often served as the sauce long ago, he now prefers to make his own. The cabbage, however, remains front and center.
“Cabbage is huge in Polish cooking because it’s Eastern Europe,” he said. “Cabbage grew wild there.”
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Stuffed cabbage rolls are simple to make, he says, but you have to be patient putting them together.
“The way to botch it is to hurry through, especially when making the stuffed cabbages themselves,” he said. “They need to be tight, or they will fall apart.”
You also need to place the opening of the cabbage down in the pan instead of up to help keep the dish together.
Allan Beargie, 31, is a second-year student in the Johnson County Community College’s Hospitality Management Program. He loves cooking, so he takes as many cooking classes as he can fit in. He is a sauté cook at Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City.
About the column
Cooking 101 is a bimonthly column exclusive to The Star designed to introduce home cooks to basic cooking techniques. The recipe, food styling and photography are a joint project between culinary students and instructors at Johnson County Community College’s Hospitality Management Program.
Lamb Golabkis With Sweet Tomato Sauce
Makes 9 servings
1 head green cabbage
1 head red cabbage
1 pound ground lamb
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 cup cooked rice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tomatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups vegetable stock
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, large diced
1 parsnip, large diced
2 stalks celery, large diced
8 tablespoons clarified butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup sugar
Optional garnishes: Chopped parsley and sour cream
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
In a large stockpot, bring salted water to boil. Remove the core of cabbages and blanch each separately for 6 minutes or until leaves are flexible. Drain in a colander. When cool enough to handle, peel off nine red and nine green leaves.
In a large mixing bowl, mix ground lamb, beef, rice, garlic, salt and pepper. Place a 1/4 cup of the mixture at the base of each cabbage leaf, then roll and secure with kitchen twine. Melt butter in a saute pan and saute cabbage rolls lightly to help hold them together, then use a spatula to place the rolls in a casserole dish.
In a saucepan, bring tomatoes and vegetable stock to a simmer for 10 minutes. Cool slightly and then puree in a blender. Pour tomato puree over cabbage rolls. Add onion, carrot, parsnip and celery, and cover pan. Cook cabbage rolls for 1 hour.
Remove casserole dish from oven and reserve cabbage rolls. In a saucepan, heat clarified butter over medium-low heat and whisk in flour to create a blond roux; continue to cook 7 to 10 minutes, stirring constantly until cooked but do not allow mixture to brown. Pour cabbage roll pan juices into a small saucepan; simmer over medium-low heat until reduced by one-fourth. Add sugar to desired sweetness. Add roux to desired thickness.
Serve cabbage rolls by crisscrossing one red and one green roll on a plate. Add vegetables and drizzle with tomato sauce. To add more color, drizzle sour cream on top and garnish with chopped parsley.
Per serving: 489 calories (60 percent from fat), 34 grams total fat (17 grams saturated), 94 milligrams cholesterol, 32 grams carbohydrates, 20 grams protein, 329 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber.