Great aunt Lizi’s impact on my life pretty much ran the spectrum. She was responsible for our meeting with Jim back in 1967 and then years later she thought me how to make cabbage rolls and beigli. The rest of her influence was less beneficial to my well being and may God forgive her for the misery she caused the family on both sides of the world. I have to admit she was an excellent cook and once I watched her make cabbage rolls. Today [thirty odd years later] I finally measured it out and wrote it down. 

Authentic Hungarian cabbage rolls are made with Hungarian paprika and sauerkraut. Sometimes I wish fusion recipes would not make claims of authenticity. Because cooking the rolls in tomato sauce or in tomato juice, adding much too much rice or using ground beef in any proportion is not the Hungarian way. 

You may cook Hungarian cabbage rolls in a large pot and watch them devotedly or put them in the oven and let them develop on their own. I use a deep roasting pan. Some type of smoked pork piece is always beneficial. This time I bought a nice strip of smoked ribs. When all else fails, a chopped up ham steak will work too. Hungarian recipes generally call for entire heads of sour cabbage, in which case the cabbage has to be rinsed otherwise the dish will be unpleasantly sour. But if we combine fresh cabbage with wine sauerkraut, the cabbage rolls will always have the right amount of pungency. Add salt only to the filling because the sauerkraut and the smoked pork adds plenty of salt to the dish.

Assemble and cook the cabbage rolls on day one. Let them cool and keep them chilled overnight. The following day make the paprika roux, stir it into the dish and let it cook in the oven for a couple of hours longer. After that the cabbage rolls are ready for serving. Eat it with a thick slice of rustic bread and sour cream. No you may not butter the bread.

1 small cabbage
1/4 cup Basmati rice
3 Tbsp oil
1 onion diced
2-1/2 lb lean ground pork 
3 cloves of garlic, diced
1 lb chopped smoked ribs or diced ham
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
salt and ground pepper to taste
1-2 Tbsp Hungarian paprika
2 eggs
8 cups sauerkraut
2 peppers, chopped
3-4 fresh medium tomatoes, skin removed and chopped
4 Tbsp oil
4 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp Hungarian paprika
1 tsp hot Hungarian paprika
14 % sour cream

• Put a large pot of water on the stove and bring it to boil.
• Then carefully, as not to cut yourself, core the cabbage with a small, sharp knife.
• Add the cabbage to the pot and start simmering it.
• Meanwhile place the rice and 1 cup of water in a small pot and bring it to boil.
• Cook the rice until half done.
• Pour off the water and set the rice aside for use later.
• Return to the cabbage simmering in the pot. The upper leaves would have softened enough to make them removable from the head without breaking. Stick a strong carving fork into the hollowed bottom and remove the cabbage onto a platter. Handle with care, it will be hot.
• Pry off as many layers as possible without breaking. You need intact cabbage leaves for rolling.
• Return the cabbage head to the simmering water.
• While the cabbage cooks, start on the stuffing.
• Dice a large onion and place it in a non stick fry pan with 3 Tbsp oil.
• Gently sauté the onions until they are very soft.
• Place the ground pork in a large bowl.
• Add the half cooked rice.
• Add the soft onions and the diced garlic.
• Add the marjoram, caraway seeds, salt and pepper and 1 Tbsp Hungarian paprika.
• Add the 2 eggs.
• With clean hands combine the meat with the onions, spices and the eggs until filling is the same throughout.
• Return to the cabbage. A few more layers of cabbage will have softened, again take the cabbage out and remove as many leaves as you you are able.
• Repeat the procedure until the leaves are too small for rolling up. Take out what remains of the cabbage and place it on a cutting board. 
• Slice the remaining head of cabbage into strips and set it aside.
• Do not discard the cabbage stock.
• Place a small handful of stuffing inside a softened cabbage leaf and wrap it up like a burrito.
• Place the cabbage rolls on a tray temporarily.
• When all the stuffing is gone you can begin the layering.
• Scatter 4 cups of sauerkraut in the pan.
• Add the fresh cabbage strips you made earlier and mix it into the sauerkraut.
• Place the smoked ribs or the diced ham on top of the sauerkraut.
• Arrange the cabbage rolls on the top.
• Add the pepper chunks and the tomatoes.
• Scatter another 4 cups of sauerkraut over everything.
• Add enough cabbage stock to cover the last layer of cabbage roll. Discard the rest.
• Place the pan in a 350F oven, cover with foil and cook for 4 hours.
• Remove from the oven and let it cool.
• With a slotted spoon transfer the cabbage rolls and the ribs into a smaller pot and cover.
• Pour the cabbage with the broth into a separate bowl and cover.
• Place everything in the fridge for the night.
• The following day make a roux in a nonstick skillet from 4 Tbsp of oil and 4 Tbsp of flour.
• Remove from the heat and stir in 3 Tbsp of sweet and 1 tsp of hot Hungarian paprika.
• Stir the paprika roux into the bowl with the cabbage.
• Taste and adjust the salt. 
• Transfer half of the thickened cabbage back into the pan the cabbage rolls were cooked in.
• Lay the ribs and the cabbage rolls on the top.
• Cover with the remaining cabbage and the remaining broth.
• Place in preheated 350F oven for 2 hours.
• Serve the cabbage rolls with sour cream and rustic white bread.

The cabbage is cored

Cabbage leaves should come off easily. If not, slide the cabbage back into the boiling water 

The half cooked rice

Diced onions

Filling ingredients

The filling is ready

Lay a bit of filling inside the cabbage leaf

Fold up the cabbage leaf around the filling like a burrito

Distribute the smoked ribs

Add the cabbage rolls

Top with fresh pepper chunks and tomatoes

Cover everyting with sauerkraut 

Make the roux

Add the layers again

Bake for 2 hours longer and cabbage rolls are ready

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It began with posting a few recipes on line for my family. "zsuzsa is in the kitchen" has more than 1000 Hungarian and International recipes. What started out as a private project turned into a well visited blog. The number of visitors long passed the two million mark. I organized my recipes into an on-line cookbook. On top of the page click on the cookbook to access the recipes. I am not profiting from my blog, so my visitors will not be harassed with advertising or flashy gadgets. Feel free to cut and paste my recipes for your own use. Publication is permitted as long as it is in your own words and with your own photographs. However, I would ask you for an acknowledgement and link-back to my blog. Happy cooking!