Ukrainian Cabbage Rolls with Mushroom Sauce

An old, traditional dish for a cold, windy Wednesday.  This recipe is much, much older than the 1970’s, but our Polish Mom adopted this version then and still says it is one of the best.

Ukrainian Cabbage Rolls with Mushroom Sauce
1 lg. head green cabbage
2 med. onions, chopped
1/3 c. butter
3/4 lb. ground pork
3/4 lb. ground veal or beef
6 c. cooked rice
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1 c. tomato sauce
½ c. water
Mushroom Sauce (recipe follows)

Boil water in a large stockpot. Prepare cabbage by cutting out the core, being careful not to cut too deeply into the leaves. Immerse the whole cabbage into the rapidly boiling water and simmer until the outer leaves just become barely translucent. (Caution: overcooking will cause the leaves to split when they are rolled.)

Remove the outer cabbage leaves and continue to remove leaves as they start to become translucent and set aside to cool. Cut away and reserve the protruding, vein-like rib of the cabbage leaf, if needed, to make the leaf thinner and easier to roll.  Roughly chop the reserved cabbage rib and use it to line a buttered casserole pan along with a few of the cabbage leaves that are too small to roll, but save some of the small leaves for later. Set the larger cabbage leaves for rolling aside.

Saute’ onion in butter until soft. Combine the meats, rice and onion and season with salt and pepper. Holding leaf in your palm, place a rounded tbsp. of the rice/meat mixture in the center of leaf, enclose over filling and roll from the core section to the outer edge. Place the roll, loose side down, on top of the cabbage lining the buttered casserole pan. Continue rolling and aligning the rolls in the casserole pan. Makes about 3 dozen rolls.

In a kettle, dilute the tomato sauce with water and pour over the cabbage rolls. Cover with the remaining, small cabbage leaves. (The smaller, curled leaves can be split for better coverage.) Cover with a tight lid. Bake at 350° for about 1 hour or until the cabbage leaves are tender. While they are cooking, prepare the Mushroom Sauce.

Mushroom Sauce
4 tbsp. flour
4 tbsp. butter
water
2 (4 oz) cans mushrooms, very finely chopped (reserve liquid)
water
3 chicken bouillon cubes
3/4 c. sour cream
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

In a skillet or sauce pan, brown the flour in melted butter until golden brown.  Add water to the mushroom liquid to make 2 cups, and add it to another sauce pan and bring it to a boil. Dissolve the bouillon cubes in the boiling mushroom liquor, then pour and stir it into the first skillet with the browned flour and butter, stirring constantly. Then add the mushrooms to the sauce.

In a bowl, blend the sour cream with a few spoonfuls of the mushroom sauce.  Gradually add the sour cream mixture to the mushroom sauce, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper. Serve the sauce with the finished cabbage rolls.

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