Bulldog Cuisine – Halupki with a Bulldog Twist

If a man cannot or will not cook, he is not a man. All REAL men – manly men, if you will – know how to cook, and by cook I don’t mean scurry around a studio kitchen yelling “BAM!” and cooking stuff most ordinary chefs don’t cook, like that wretched little Emeril does on his stupid Food Network show. Honestly…what kind of serious chef has his own studio band, complete with an African-American Doc Severinsen? I learned to cook because my mother – God rest her soul – was a superb cook. When I moved out and lived on my own, I had no choice but to teach myself the arcane ways of the kitchen. And now I happily pass what I have learned along to you, gentle reader.

Mama Marie was a full-blooded Italian, but that fact is no reason to conclude she was only capable of preparing Italian cuisine. She made a phenomenal stuffed cabbage recipe that only your humble Bulldog could improve upon with the addition of ground kielbasa and Parmigiano cheese along with the substitution of risotto for long grain rice. I know that Mom would approve because she was only interested in the best tasting recipe.

Halupki is the Russian term for stuffed cabbage. The Polish call it galumpki. Whatever the designation, it consists of cabbage leaves stuffed with a meat mixture and cooked to perfection.

Ladies and gentlemen: I present for your delectation Halupki with a Bulldog Twist. I guarantee you will love it.

Ingredients

1  whole head of white cabbage, about 4 lbs.
½ cup arboreo rice (risotto)
½ cup water
1 bay leaf
4 tablespoons butter
2 finely diced large onions
1 stalk celery, fincely diced
2 large cloves fresh garlic, minced
½ cup beer
1-¼ pounds ground beef chuck
¼ pound lean ground pork
½ lb fresh kielbasa, finely minced or processed (see below)
¼ cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsely
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp each: dried marjoram, thyme and sage
2 tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
1 (28-ounce) can tomato puree
1 small can plain tomato paste
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the cabbage head in a very large soup pot in the kitchen sink and fill with water to a level at least 2 inches below the top of the pot. Remove the head of cabbage, add 2 tbsp kosher salt to the water and bring to the boil on high heat.

Pour ½ cup water into a small sauce pan on high heat and add the rice and the bay leaf. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed, stirring occasionally.

While rice is cooking, prepare the meat: place the ground beef and ground pork into a large mixing bowl. Finely mince the kielbasa with a sharp butcher’s knife or, for best results, cut the kielbasa into inch-long pieces and pulse in a food processor until thoroughly and finely ground up. Add the ground kielbasa to the beef and pork.

If the pot comes to the boil before the rice has cooked, reduce the heat to medium and tend to the rice. When all of the water has been absorbed, remove saucepan from stove and turn the rice out into a shallow dish to cool. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Add the parsley, salt and pepper to the rice and mix thoroughly. Set aside to cool.

Bring the pot to a rolling boil and gently lower the head of cabbage into the water. Reduce heat to medium and allow to boil for 5 minutes. Remove cabbage from the pot and place in another large pot filled with cold water. Reserve 4 cups of the cabbage-water.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan on medium heat until foaming subsides. Add onions and celery and cook until onions are translucent, about five minutes. Add garlic and cook for a minute more. Deglaze the pan with the beer and continue cooking until liquid evaporates. Mix in the salt, pepper and spices and then transfer to the bowl containing the meat. Add the cooked risotto and the cheese and vigorously incorporate all the ingredients with a carving fork to avoid overworking the meat.

When the cabbage is cool enough to handle, pull off 18 of the leaves. Lay each leaf flat on a cutting board and use a butcher knife to cut away the thick center stem from each leaf by laying the knife flat on the leaf and slicing lengthwise from the top of the stem to the bottom, giving the leaf a fairly even thickness. After all the leaves have been prepared, whisk the tomato paste into the tomato puree and pour into the bottom of a large Dutch oven or covered casserole pan.

Place a cabbage leaf on the cutting board with the stem side in front of you. Shape half a cup of meat filling into a rough cylinder shape – about 3 inches long by 2 inches in diameter and place at the stem end of the leaf. Roll away from you for one revolution, then fold in the right hand side of the leaf to the middle followed by the left side. Continue rolling away from you to create a neatly packaged, cylindrical halupki. Place in the cooking vessel and repeat until all of the halupki have been assembled.

Cover and cook in the oven for 3 hours. Baste the halupki occasionally with the sauce. Serve three halupki per person with a hunk of warm bread and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

But Bulldog…what about the leftover cabbage?

Hmmmm…good question. Remember the 4 cups of cabbage water I asked you to reserve?

Cream of Cabbage Soup

Ingredients

Leftover head of cabbage from halupki recipe, evenly chopped
Fat from 6 slices bacon, cooked very crisp
Reserved bacon slices, crushed
1 large onion, finely diced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
½ cup white wine
4 cups cabbage water
3 tsp chicken bouillon paste or 3 cubes Knorr solid chicken bouillon
¼ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp each: dried marjoram, thyme and sage
½ tsp caraway seeds
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup light cream

Directions

Cut the cabbage in half and then cut each half into ¼ inch slices. Cut again in the opposite direction to achieve a pile of evenly chopped cabbage.

In a large skillet cook the bacon on medium heat until thoroughly crisp. Pour off the fat and reserve the bacon strips on a piece of paper towel. After the bacon has cooled, crumble it up.

Add the bacon fat to a large soup pot on medium heat, followed by the onions and saute until the onions just start to brown, then add the garlic. Cook for a minute more and then deglaze with the wine. After the liquid evaporates, add the cabbage-water, chicken bouillon, cabbage, salt, pepper, bay leaf and spices. Stir, bring to the boil and then reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a small saucepan, melt butter on medium heat and after foaming subsides add flour. Continue stirring for a few minutes until the roux begins the change color. Add the light cream and whisk thoroughly before pouring into soup. Stir to incorporate and simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Turn off heat and then remove and discard the bay leaf.

Ladle soup into shallow bowls and sprinkle with crushed bacon before serving.

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2 Responses to Bulldog Cuisine – Halupki with a Bulldog Twist

  1. HeleneH says:

    I look forward to these posts every week. Sounds good.

  2. Pingback: The Week in Review – May 13 thru May 19 | BullDog Pundit