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Stuffed cabbage - "I only marry a woman who, knows how to cook this!"


*** This recipe has a story behind it. Stuffed cabbage is my husband's favourite dish, and right at the start of our dating, of course, we spoke a lot about food. So, well, two foodies have met!

He stated the fact; he'll never marry a woman who can't cook this dish, well!

Of course, my stubbornness took this in the wrong way, and I promised myself I'd never make this dish in my life. See who'll win!

I tried stuffed cabbage at a party while I met up with Hungarian people in Cambridge, UK. But, honestly, I didn't have such good memories of this kind of food. It wasn't delicious at all, just fat and too heavy to my liking. I remember my mother in law called me one day and asked me to make some stuffed cabbage for his son finally, as she couldn't do it due to the 2000 km distance between us.

We have lived in the UK; his parents are back in Hungary. I think I gave her all my stupid excuses why I don't want to cook this particular recipe, but the truth.

She also promised she'll be with me on a call so I can not mess it up. Well, this wasn't the reason, poor her. Not sure what happened, but after 3years together, I wanted to surprise him on his birthday. So I took all my hard feelings and pride aside and cooked it. Well, well.

It has turned out so delicious, that nowadays, I crave it more than him. I took it to the next level of personalising it, with adding smoked meat, more flavourings, and it's just amazing to spoon it all up on a cold, windy day. ***


Half cup rice (rinsed and drained)

500g lean minced pork

500g minced beef

5 garlic cloves (minced)

2 medium onions (finely chopped)

2 large eggs

2 tablespoon salt (or to taste)

1/2 teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons paprika (sweet or hot, divided)

1 head cabbage (about 4 pounds)

1kg sauerkraut (drained, rinsing optional)

1 bag of smoked bacon, thinly sliced)

2 tablespoons butter

Sour cream for serving (You'll need a lot)

Steps to Make It:

1. Gather the ingredients and prepare a large bowl

2. Cook rice in 1/2 cup water for 10 minutes, drain and set aside. (You can leave this out see "Tips")

3. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix ground pork and ground beef with garlic, chopped onions, eggs, salt, pepper, paprika, and reserved cooked and drained rice. Set aside.

4. If you don't have the pre-made jar soured cabbage leaves: Remove the core from fresh cabbage. Place whole head in a large pot filled with boiling, salted water. Cover and cook for 3 minutes, or until softened enough to pull off individual leaves. You will need about 25 leaves.

5. When leaves are cool enough to handle, use a knife to cut away the thick centre stem from each leaf without cutting all the way through.

6. Place reserved shredded cabbage in a casserole on top of your rolls. You can sprinkle them again with smoked bacon pieces. Fill up your dish half with boiling water. I usually season this water with onion powder and paprika powder. Gentle bring to boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 2 hours. Do not try to stir as you'll break the rolls! I just gently shake the dish so doesn't stick to the bottom, but if you fill with water it won't happen.

7. Gently remove the stuffed cabbage from the casserole with a spoon into a bowl, add some liquid also, and bacon if you like. 8. Mix some of the pan juices with sour cream and pour over the stuffed cabbages when serving.

My tips:

1. Change meat - You can play with this dish a lot! You can personalise it as you wish. For example, I sometimes mix the minced meat - half port, half beef. Or if I know we'll have guests who don't eat red meat, I use minced chicken or turkey. I also made this dish with Quorn (meat substitute).

2. Leave out rice - You can leave the rice out to make it healthier! It will be the same, trust me!

3. Add smoked meat to it. Small pieces of smoked bacon or ham goes a long way! It adds a full smoky flavour to your dish!

4. You can buy the cabbage leaves in a jar (usually in Turkish, Polish and Russian shops), and they are good to go! - see photo

This dish is more a winter food as I couldn't imagine in the hot summertime. However, you can make it any time of the year; trust me, we do!

Also, the fantastic thing is, it freezes well, so you can make a bigger batch and freeze it, then enjoy when you don't have time to cook.

*** Jó étvágyat kívánok! ***

Bon Appetit!


I am not willing to discuss the origin of this recipe, as I know that many countries claim it as their own. Hungary, Romania, Serbia and a few others.

Regardless, enjoy ☺️

All images & content © 2021 Heidi Kalmar


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