|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 19g||24%|
|Saturated Fat 7g||34%|
|Total Carbohydrate 50g||18%|
|Dietary Fiber 12g||44%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
This recipe for Serbian stuffed cabbage, or sarma, is a hearty dish that many Serbs serve every day but especially for special occasions like slava and other holidays. Recipes vary from cook to cook, but they all consist of a meat filling wrapped in cabbage and cooked over sauerkraut. This recipe includes a tomato sauce for more flavor.
Stuffed cabbage in one form or another is present in most world cuisines but especially among Eastern Europeans. Czechs and Slovaks call them holubky and Poles refer to them as gołąbki. They all boil down to the same thing—meat and a filler like rice or barley rolled up in a cabbage leaf and cooked on the stove or in the oven.
Some people use imported or homemade whole heads of brined cabbage (sauerkraut) known as kiseli kupus when making their sarma. This recipe uses steamed cabbage leaves to wrap the filling and cooks atop a bed of shredded cabbage and sauerkraut.
- 1 (3 to 4-pound) large head cabbage
- 1 pound ground chuck
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 1 cup raw rice (rinsed)
- 1 (1.4-ounce) package dehydrated onion soup mix
- 1 (32-ounce) jar sauerkraut (rinsed and drained)
- 6 smoked ribs (or ham hock or other smoked meat)
- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can tomato soup
Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, this stuffed cabbage dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and baking.
Prepare the Cabbage
Gather the ingredients.
Steam the head of cabbage until the outer leaves are limp, then cool slightly and separate the leaves.
With a paring knife, remove the tough ribs from the leaves without damaging them. Reserve the tougher outer leaves, but don't use for rolling.
Make the Filling
In a medium bowl, mix together the ground chuck, ground pork, rice, and onion soup mix.
Adding a small amount of water will make the mixture easier to handle.
Assemble the Rolls
Heap 2 tablespoons of filling onto each steamed, prepared cabbage leaf.
Fold the bottom of the cabbage leaf up over the meat.
Fold sides to the center and roll away from yourself to encase completely.
Repeat until the meat filling is gone.
Bake the Sarma
Heat oven to 350 F.
Discard the cabbage core and coarsely chop any remaining cabbage except the tough outer leaves you have reserved.
Spread the chopped cabbage on the bottom of a large casserole dish or Dutch oven. Add the drained sauerkraut.
Layer on the cabbage rolls, seam side down.
Cut the smoked ribs into pieces. Space the ribs or other smoked meat of choice between the cabbage rolls.
Cover rolls with reserved tough outer leaves.
Mix tomato sauce and soup with enough water to make a liquidy consistency.
Pour over rolls until mixture is level with rolls, but not over the top.
Cover casserole dish and bake 1 hour.
Then reduce temperature to 325 F and bake for 2 more hours.
Let sit 20 to 30 minutes before serving.
This dish freezes well.
How to Store and Freeze
- Sarma can be prepared up to a day before baking. Assemble the rolls, top with sauce, and cover tightly. Store in the fridge until ready to bake; remove from the fridge 30 minutes before baking.
- Unbaked stuffed cabbage rolls can be frozen. Assemble the rolls but stop before placing them atop the cabbage and sauerkraut and don't add the tomato sauce. Line a baking dish with aluminum foil followed by plastic wrap and top with the cabbage rolls. Wrap the top in the same way and freeze. Remove from the baking dish, wrap tightly, and store for up to three months. Defrost in the fridge overnight before proceeding with the recipe and baking.
Do You Eat Cabbage Rolls Hot or Cold?
Cabbage rolls are typically served hot or warm, often soon after being baked. They also make nice leftovers, and can be reheated in the oven or microwave.
How Do You Get Cabbage Leaves off Without Breaking Them?
Steaming a whole head of cabbage whole helps make the leaves pliable enough that they are less prone to breaking when peeled and separated. Alternatively, the head of cabbage can be frozen solid, which wilts the leaves enough for easier removal. Let thaw completely before separating the leaves.