Hungarian stuffed cabbage rolls with sour cream.
Hungarian stuffed cabbage rolls with sour cream.

Hungarian Cabbage Rolls

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Cabbage rolls, often stuffed with meat and other ingredients are probably among the most common food items in the world.

Hungarian stuffed cabbage rolls.

Hungarian stuffed cabbage rolls (töltött káposzta).

The Hungarian version shown in these pictures is made from ground pork and rice rolled into cabbage leaves cooked with Sauerkraut (sour cabbage). It is often eaten with sour cream on top.

It is a popular dish year round, but around Christmas and New Year most families in Hungary will eat cabbage rolls at least once — in fact usually a couple of times as the dish supposed to be cooked in large quantities enough for more than one meal.

The common wisdom is that dishes that combine meat and cabbage usually improve with time, i.e. they taste better when reheated the next day.

Recipes vary greatly. Apart from sour cabbage various items are placed among the cabbage rolls during cooking, such as smoked bacon and sausages, smoked ham or pig hock, or even pork stew — the latter is especially popular in Hungarian Gipsy cuisine. These extra ingredients are served as part of the dish.

A lot of recipes, especially in North American websites, list the ingredients as ground pork and lean ground beef in 1:1 ratio, or only specify ground beef without any pork. In Hungary beef is less likely to be used and even if it is, usually as a smaller percentage of the stuffing, along with fat pork and even pieces of smoked bacon.

Alternatively poultry is used sometimes as stuffing for Hungarian cabbage rolls — ground chicken, turkey, goose or duck. Goose and duck meat has higher fat content and in many recipes can be used instead of pork.

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Last updated: December 25, 2015

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