Polish Gołąbki

Prep Time:
15 Minutes
Cook Time:
90 Minutes
December 5, 2022
November 15, 2022

Prepare Ahead

Start by half-cooking two cups of rice and letting it cool before mixing it with the meat. Follow the package directions and cut the cook time in half. Meanwhile, place a large pot with enough water to cover the head of cabbage on the burner over high heat as it will take a while to get the water to a low-boil.  Chop the onion and garlic.

Preheat the oven to 350F.



1 Large Head of Cabbage

1 lb of Ground Beef

1 lb of Ground Pork

2 1/2 Cup of Half-Cooked Rice (Medium Grain)

3/4 of a Large Onion <span class="cut diced">Diced</span>

2 Garlic Cloves <span class="cut minced">minced</span>

3 tbs of Softened Butter

2 tsp of Salt

1 1/2 tsp of Black Pepper

1 quart of Chicken Stock


1 32oz Can of San Marzano Tomatoes

1 8oz Can of Tomato Paste

1/4 of a Large Onion

1/2 c Water

2 tsp Salt

1 1/2 tsp Black Pepper

1 Garlic Clove

8 Half-Cooked Cremini Mushrooms <span class="cut roughly-cut">Roughly chopped</span> & Divided


Forming The Cabbage Rolls

  1. Core the cabbage from the bottom similar to the way a pumpkin top is removed-cutting at an angle. A large head of cabbage has a core of roughly 5" inches in diameter and 2-3" inches deep.  Some of the outer leaves will start to fall, but you can push them back together before carefully submerging the cabbage bottom first in the pot of warming water.
  2. While the cabbage softens, prepare the filling by adding the beef, pork, half-cooked rice, 3/4 of the diced onions, 2 garlic cloves, softened butter, salt, and pepper into a large mixing bowl. Hand-mix or spoon-mix until combined. Set aside.
  3. When the water in the cabbage pot begins to simmer or lightly boil, stand by with tongues and a spoon to gently pull back the outermost leaves of the cabbage.  They should still be firm, but start to pull away from the rest of the cabbage head easily.  Carefully remove the leaves as they come away, using tongues to pull them from the pot and test that they are softened and bend without breaking. Add them back to the pot if they need more time.  Be careful not to tear or poke holes in the leaves.  When the leaves are tender, but not fully wilted, place them open-faced on the baking sheet lined with a cooling rack to drain.  A large head of cabbage should yield roughly a dozen large cabbage leaves.  
  4. The innermost light-colored leaves will be smaller, firmer, and less pliable.  These will be used to help line the casserole dish, and anything left over can be used to make other dishes or in soups.  If any of the outer leaves tear or become too small to wrap the cabbage, these can also be used to line the casserole dish.
  5. Line the casserole dish with any small, broken, or unusable leaves. Then, start rolling by grabbing a cooler leaf from the pile.  If the large cabbage leaf ribs are too thick to roll, you can use a paring or fillet knife to thin out the rib.  Once your leaf is prepared, grab about 1/2c to 1c of the filling (based on your preference and the size of the cabbage leaf) and align it in the center similar to the way you would roll a burrito.  Fold the leaf from the bottom over the filling, then fold each side inward, and then finish rolling until you have a finished cabbage roll shape.  Place the roll in the casserole dish-open end facing down.  Repeat with the remaining rolls until your pan is filled.
  6. Pour the chicken stock over the rolls until the bottom 1/3 of the rolls are submerged.  Place the rolls in the oven and bake uncovered for 20 minutes at 350F.  After 20 minutes, cover the cabbage with aluminum foil and continue to bake for an additional 40 minutes.

Forming The Sauce

  1. In the meantime, prepare the sauce by semi-cooking the mushrooms in a frying pan for roughly 5 minutes or until they begin to soften.  Divide them in half and add them to a blender with the tomatoes, tomato paste, water, 1/4 onion, garlic clove, salt, and pepper to taste.  Blend until smooth but still textured.
  2. Add the sauce back to the frying pan with the remaining mushrooms and turn the heat to low.  Cover and simmer on low, stirring occasionally until the rolls are finished baking.
  3. Once the rolls are finished, take them out of the oven and let them stand for 15 minutes with the cover on.  Then plate them by adding a spoonful of the sauce to the plate, placing a cabbage roll in the center.  Then drop another spoonful of sauce over the top of the roll.  
  4. Serve with red or dry white wine and a carb or blanched vegetable of your choice.

Tools and Vessels

  • Large Soup Pot big enough to fit the head of cabbage.
  • Deep pan or sauce pot for cooking rice.
  • Casserole Dish for baking finished cabbage rolls.
  • Baking sheet lined with a cooling rack for draining the cabbage.
  • Food Tong, Spatulas, and stirring spoons.

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