|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 6 to 8|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 26g||33%|
|Saturated Fat 9g||44%|
|Total Carbohydrate 47g||17%|
|Dietary Fiber 9g||32%|
|Total Sugars 12g|
|Vitamin C 107mg||537%|
|*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 slavas 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.
Sarma, or Serbian stuffed cabbage, is a meal in and of itself and needs little accompaniment. A side of fresh bread or potato salad makes it a feast, or try starting with soup like pasulj.
"The Serbian stuffed cabbage was a nice change of pace with the tomato sauce mixture and the sour flavor from the sauerkraut. The onion soup-seasoned filling was delicious, too. If your brand of dry onion soup envelope weighs only 1 ounce, add 1 1/2 envelopes." —Diana Rattray
1 (3-to 4-pound) 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 medium smoked ribs, ham hocks, or other smoked meat
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can tomato soup
Steps to Make It
Prepare the Cabbage
Gather the ingredients.
Cut the core out of the cabbage and discard. In a large pot partially filled with boiling water, steam the cabbage, cut-side down. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and steam until the outer leaves are limp, about 8 to 10 minutes. Use tongs to remove the larger softened leaves. Continue to steam and remove larger leaves as they become done until you have about 22 to 23 whole large cabbage leaves. Reserve any remaining steamed cabbage.
With a paring knife, remove the tough ribs without damaging the leaves. Discard the cabbage ribs or reserve for another use.
Make the Filling
In a large bowl, mix together the ground chuck, ground pork, rice, and onion soup mix.
Add a small amount of water to make the mixture easier to handle.
Assemble the Rolls
Set 3 or 4 of the leaves aside. Heap about 1/4 cup of filling onto each of the remaining cabbage leaves.
Fold the bottom of the cabbage leaf up over the meat.
Fold sides to the center and roll away from yourself to completely encase the meat.
Repeat until all the meat filling is used.
Bake the Sarma
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 F.
Coarsely chop the remaining steamed cabbage, not including the reserved leaves.
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 whole cabbage leaves.
Whisk the tomato sauce and soup with enough water to give it a pourable consistency.
Pour the tomato sauce over rolls until the mixture is level with rolls, but not over the top.
Cover the casserole dish and bake 1 hour.
Reduce temperature to 325 F and bake for 2 more hours.
Let sit 20 to 30 minutes before serving.
Serve with the ribs.
- 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.
How to Store and Reheat Leftover Stuffed Cabbage
- Refrigerate leftover Serbian stuffed cabbage (sarma) in an airtight container and eat within 3 to 4 days.
- To freeze cooked cabbage rolls, place them in freezer bags or airtight containers. Label with the name and date and freeze for 3 to 4 months. Defrost the stuffed cabbage in the refrigerator overnight.
- To reheat leftovers, place the stuffed cabbage in a baking dish with a few tablespoons of broth, water, or tomato juice. Cover the baking dish with foil and heat in a preheated 350 F oven until the internal temperature of the filling reaches 165 F, about 20 minutes,
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 or boiling a whole head of cored cabbage 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.