Stuffed cabbage rolls. In Poland, they’re called “golabki” but here in the US that’s been sort of slurred and corrupted to “glumpki.” They’re a favorite of mine, and have been for years. My mother, who hasn’t got a drop of Eastern European blood in her, makes absolutely killer golabki, and I was fortunate enough to marry into a Polish family with an equally outstanding stuffed cabbage tradition (my wife’s golabki, made from her own mother’s recipe, are delicious and almost exactly like my mom’s. Weird.)
So you may well ask, in light of my long experience with top-notch golabki, why I would bother buying them premade, in a can.
Why indeed. Because they were on the supermarket shelf.
They came out of the can in an unrecognizable solid mass, encapsulated in a can-shaped block of aspic-like, pale grayish-red tomato sauce. I poked cautiously at the mass with my fork and eventually the sauce fell away, revealing two rather generous stuffed cabbage rolls. I arranged them on a plate and distributed chunks of the gelatinous sauce on and around them before popping them into the microwave for a three-minute zap. As the golabki warmed up, they started to smell pretty good.
Once out of the oven, they looked remarkably like homemade (although just a bit smaller.) The sauce hadn’t improved much in looks, but it smelled and tasted pretty good – there was a rich porkiness to the sauce that made it taste almost like a tomatoey pork gravy (though it was a bit on the bland side and was improved with the addition of black pepper.) The cabbage was tender but not mushy and enclosed a rich pork filling that was curiously bright pink like corned beef (thank you, sodium nitrite!) The filling was finely ground and had a bit of filler in it, but the texture was pretty good and not too soft, and the flavor was porky and pleasant.
They are not as good as homemade, but I liked them for what they are. Lynnafred tasted one and said they were good enough for the apocalypse shelter, but she wouldn’t want to eat them if she wasn’t hunkered down with a shotgun and a machete waiting for zombies to attack.
Good for a fix, but not the same.. :)
Wish I could make golabki more often - there's never a leftover when I make them! It's so hard to find good cabbage - stores usually trim off the excess loose leaves as customers tend to do so anyway, making a mess. The only time I've been able to find nice big heads of cabbage is near St. Pat's day!
Christina - do have farm stands or farmers markets near you? The supermarkets do trim the big loose leaves from the outside of the cabbages, but the farm markets usually don't. My wife and I buy a couple of enormous leafy cabbages in the fall from a local farm stand and then make several pans of golabki to freeze for enjoying throughout the year.
Canned stuffed cabbage? Oh, please, say it ain't so! My parents are from Hungary, and we make these all the time. We stuff them with ground pork and rice which has been half cooked, seasoned with paprika, a dash of coriander, salt and pepper, and a little cayenne if you want them spicy, then baked in a dish with sauerkraut over the top (it must be soaked and rinsed several times to remove the vinegar) and topped with diced bacon and a little sour cream.
Tom - Your family recipe sounds delicious, and I'm going to try it out next time I make golabki. Thanks for sharing it.
Hey - my husband remembers the canned cabbage rolls when he was a kid and it would be awesome to be able to get them as a surprise. I am from Canada and I do not see them here...are they available in the U.S.?
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