Stuffed cabbage leaves


Photograph: Kris Kirkham

Traditionally we use firm white cabbage leaves, so if you want more of a traditional taste, please use those, they just may need to be blanched for three minutes instead of two. My grandmother Lusya also used to make a version using wheat berries or buckwheat instead of rice and whole fermented cabbage leaves instead of fresh cabbage. The combination of sharp cabbage and luscious pork is incredible. I add barberries to my golubtsy to achieve that sour note. But you don’t have to use those if they are hard to find.

Serves 6 (makes 12 parcels)

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 head Savoy cabbage, 12 leaves separated
  • sea salt flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 250g beef mince
  • 250g pork mince
  • 160g rice, parboiled and drained
  • 40g barberries (optional)

To serve

  • 100ml sour cream
  • ½ small bunch dill, finely chopped
  1. Make the sauce first. Heat the oil in a heavy-based casserole. Fry half of the onion and the grated carrot over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until soft. Add the sugar and the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the bay leaf, tomatoes and 400ml water and season well.
  2. Blanch the cabbage leaves for 2 minutes in boiling water. Then refresh them in cold water and drain well on kitchen paper.
  3. Mix the minces, parboiled rice, barberries, seasoning and the remaining diced onion. Place 50g of the filling on to each cabbage leaf and fold into parcels.k
  4. Place the parcels on top of the sauce, folded side down, tucking them next to each other snugly so they do not unravel.
  5. Cook over a low heat for about 45 minutes or until cooked through. Serve with lots of chopped dill, sourdough bread and a dollop of sour cream on the side.