Hungary for cabbage rolls

My mother in law was born in Hungary so this week I decided we’d travel there for our weekly shelter in place destination so my son could learn a bit about his heritage and so my husband could eat one of his favorite foods, cabbage rolls.

Like in past weeks, we started our visit by looking to see what the Hungarian flag looks like and then locating Hungary on the map. We then looked to see where Hungary is in relation to San Francisco where we live.

It was then time to gather the ingredients to start our culinary adventure of making cabbage rolls. We had everything on hand except cabbage so this morning I made a quick run to the grocery store, (wearing the mask I made for myself yesterday), and grabbing a few other things to help get us thru the next week of shelter in place.

I’ve never made cabbage rolls before but they are surprisingly easy to make and fun for kids because of the squishing of the filling and the rolling of the cabbage. To help continue the experience of visiting Hungary, while cooking, we listened to the music of Franz Liszt, a Hungarian pianist.

To make the cabbage rolls boil 2 cups of water and add 1/2 cup of uncooked cup of rice. While the rice is cooking, prepare the sauce for the cabbage rolls. Mince 1 clove of garlic and 1/2 of an onion and cook them with some olive oil till they are soft. Then add one can of crushed tomatoes, 1 can of tomato sauce, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar and simmer in a pan for 8-10 minutes stirring occasionally. To keep my son engaged I measure out everything and he then dumps it into the pan and helps to stir.

While the sauce simmers take a large cabbage cut it in half and then peel off 6 leaves and place them in boiling water until soft. Once soft remove them from the water and set them aside to fill.

Once the rice is cooked pour it into a bowl, add 1 pound of ground turkey and 1/2 pound of ground beef, 1/2 of a minced onion, 1 egg and 1/2 a cup of the sauce and mush together with your hands until well mixed. Your kid will like this part because the meat mixture feels squishy and is kind of like playing with play dough. Add salt and pepper and if you have it paprika. Once well mixed, divide into 6 portions (or however many rolls you want to make. I made 6 big rolls but you can divide them up and make 12 small ones if you prefer)

Take a 9 inch pan coat it with cooking spray and then spread half of the tomato mixture on the bottom of the pan. Then, separate and lay out the cooked cabbage leaves and cut the tough rib out from the bottom by making a v shape in the bottom of each cabbage leave. Place the meat mixture inside and then roll the cabbage around the meat folding in the sides to create a neat wrapped roll. This is something your kids will enjoy helping with, certainly mine did .

Once stuffed and rolled, place the cabbage rolls seamside down in the pan. Once all are in the pan cover with the rest of the sauce. If you have cabbage leaves that broke or you did not use put them on top of the rolls and sauce to help keep moisture in. Then cover the pan with tin foil and bake 1 hour.

While they are cooking you can talk about Houdini the famous magician who was from Hungary or Lazlo Biro inventor of the ballpoint pen or Erno Rubik who invented the Rubix cube. You can also look at pictures of the beautiful sites and architecture in Hungary including the Danube River, The Great Synagogue.

I recommend you enjoy your meal with some delicious Tokaj the sweet white wine Hungary is know for or opt for a full bodied red also know as Bulls Blood or Eger. There are some truly delicious Hungarian wines that are worth trying.

Hopefully, someday we will take our son to Hungary so he can enjoy the beautiful architecture, delicious pastries, and cool folklore and visit the place where his Grandmother was born but for now, reading about Hungary and enjoying some delicious cabbage rolls will have to suffice…..

Stay safe and join us next week for another shelter in place adventure.

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