Mouthwatering, wholesome and comforting fusion of Russian and American cuisine: Chili-Stuffed Golubtsy. Great as a make-ahead dish!
Golubtsy or stuffed cabbage rolls is a dish every East European has tried at least once in their life. They are especially good in autumn, when the cabbage is fresh, straight from a farmer’s market. It’s a truly comfort food for me, as it’s wholesome, delicious and healthy. Golubtsy usually refers to ground beef or pork mixed with boiled rice wrapped in green cabbage leaves, served with a thin sauce. I made them my way: first of all, I substituted Savoy cabbage for green cabbage. The shape is the same but leaves are wrinkled, which made the filling hold better in rolls and made them look prettier. Moreover, the leaves are more tender, so you need less time to cook it. Instead of rice I used kidney beans. I also added tomatoes, carrots and spices to the filling to make it more flavorful. In the end, the filling resembles an adopted version of chilli con carne, which I really love. To add the final touch, I covered them with homemade tomato sauce. It was delicious! Golubtsy are terrific as a make-ahead meal, since you can freeze them and reheat whenever you want a nice comfort meal for dinner!
How to Make Golubtsy (Russian Cabbage Rolls) Stuffed with Chilli Con Carne
Here is a full recipe:
Russian Cabbage Rolls (Golubtsy) Stuffed with Chilli Con Carne
For the cabbage rolls:
- 1 head Savoy cabbage
- 2 teaspoon olive oil
- 300 grams or 10 oz ground beef
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 medium sized onion
- 1 small chili pepper
- 2 carrots, grinded
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground majoran
- 400 grams or 14 oz can diced tomatoes or 4 medium-sized fresh tomatoes
- 400 grams or 14 oz can kidney beans
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- black pepper
- 80 grams or 3 oz grinded Gouda cheese (optional)
- sour cream
For the tomato sauce:
- 500 ml or 2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce OR
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium sized onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 500 grams or 2 cups diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
- 3 sprigs thyme
- black pepper
- In a large pot, bring 2-3 liters (1/2 - 2/3 gallon) of water to a boil. Add the whole cabbage and cook until the outer leaves begin soften, around 3 to 4 minutes. Take the cabbage out using a slotted spoon. Remove 2-3 large outer leaves, drain. Return the cabbage to the pot and repeat the process until all the cabbage leaves are cooked. Drain with a kitchen towel. Select 12 large leaves. The rest can be saved for other dishes.
- Make the filling: in a skillet, heat a teaspoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and cook for 5 minutes or until it changes color, stirring and breaking it constantly with a wooden spoon. Transfer the meat to a plate or bowl.
- Put the skillet back to the stove. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Chop onion, garlic and chili pepper and add them to the skillet together with grinded carrots. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add coriander, cumin, paprika and majoran and cook until aromatic, stirring constantly, around 1 minute.
- Add diced tomatoes with juice or diced fresh tomatoes and add them to the skillet. Drain kidney beans and add them, too. Add tomato paste, sugar, a pinch of salt and black pepper. Stir everything well and let it cook over low heat for 20 minutes or until the liquid evaporates. You want your chilli con carne to be rather dry, as it's easier to stuff cabbage leaves that way.
- Make the sauce (skip if using ready marinara sauce): put a saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil. Finely chop garlic and onion and add it to the saucepan. Cook for 3 minutes or until tender. Dice tomatoes and add them to the saucepan. Add thyme leaves. Bring to the boil and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you want the consistency of the tomato sauce to be more smooth, blend it with an immersion blender once it's ready.
- Preheat the oven to 180 ºC or 350 ºF.
- Wrap chilli con carne in cabbage: start by slicing out the think vein from the cabbage leaves, making them flat and easy to roll. Place around 4-5 heaped tablespoons of filling on the thick side of a leaf and fold in sides. Roll up and place in an oven-safe baking form or skillet with seam side down. Repeat until the filling is over. Top with the tomato sauce.
- Cover the form with a sheet of tin foil or a lid and put it in the oven for 30 minutes or until the cabbage is tender. Uncover and cook for 10 more minutes. Optional: add grinded Gouda after you uncover the skillet.
- Serve 2 rolls per person topped with a teaspoon of sour cream. Enjoy!