Serves 10 - 12 people
Hungarian Stuffed cabbage roll

Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Töltött Kápaszta

Holiday cooking is a family affair.  We are carrying on Grandma Gigi’s traditions each year when we make Stuffed cabbage rolls (Töltött Kápaszta).  They are a labor of love each Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The holidays would not be the same without them.  If you have any leftovers they can be frozen and enjoyed later. Lodge 7 quart enameled dutch oven works well and stands up to the fancy French brands.

Hungarian Stuffed cabbage roll

2 large cabbage heads


1/4 lb. beef, 1 lb. veal, 1/4 lb. ham ground

2 slices bacon, finely diced

1/2 cup short grain rice (1:2 ratio or more if you want to stretch the meat)

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 tbsp paprika

4 cloves of garlic

A little olive oil to bind together

Salt and pepper to taste


1 tomato thinly sliced

2 onions thinly sliced

2 thinly sliced green peppers

1 hammock or shanks for more meat. Have the butcher slice them.


2 Tbsp Oil

1/3 cup flour

3 to 5 Tsp paprika (depending on intensity of flavor you like)

1 Tsp salt or to taste

2/ 6 oz cans of tomato paste

1 Tsp. sugar

1 jar sauerkraut (optional)

Take off the most wretched outer leaves of the cabbage, and rinse the whole thing off. Remove the core of each cabbage heads.

Steam the cabbage for 5-10 minutes, or until the leaves are pliable enough to bend easily. Remove outer leaves as they get tender and continue until all are removed and there is just a small amount left. Do not let them steam to long or they will rip.

When leaves are cooled pare the thick rib down to get rid of the tough vein and make it about as flat as the rest of the leaf.

 Prepare filling by frying 2 pieces of finely chopped bacon, fry until crisp and remove from pan and cool, reserve rendered fat. Place onion in the pot and sauté  in the bacon fat.

Once the onions are browned and caramelized remove them from the pan to cool.

Put the ground meats into a large bowl and mix by hand, add the fried bacon pieces, rice, onions, garlic paprika, salt, and pepper. Donʼt over blend are the filling will become tough.

Assemble: Use a large roasting pan for stuffed cabbage, this makes quit a few. Begin layering with green peppers, sliced tomatoes, sliced onions and sauerkraut (optional).  Add a 1 layer of stuffed cabbage then repeat with layering items.

When the pot is filled, top with the remainder of  onions, tomatoes, and green peppers. Nestle the ham hock on top of stuffed cabbage. Now fill the pot with enough water to cover the rolls. Bring them to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes and begin preparing the sauce.

Sauce: In a separate pan make a roux by browning the flour in olive oil. Stir in the paprika, then remove from heat. Add sugar, salt and tomato paste and mix well. Ladle some of the hot broth out of the cooking cabbage roll pot and mix with the paste. It may take several ladles full to thin it out enough. Add 3/4 of the thinned sauce back into the pot with the cabbage, and carefully jiggle/shake it until itʼs dissolved in the remaining cabbage water. Reserve the 1/4 part of sauce for final presentation if desired.

Cook in a 350-degree oven for 2-3 hours until ham hocks are falling off the bone and all the flavors deliciously married.

Top with the reserved sauce and a dollop of sour cream. Enjoy our Hungarian family recipe.

They can be frozen after they are cooled and enjoyed another day.

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