Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Croatian Cooking Contest

I am just finishing up the January meal calendar and it hit me today that it is the 2nd of February already. So, I started planning my meal plan for this month. I needed to get it out ASAP. As I was looking around for recipes, I found this!

4th cooking event mediterranean food - CROATIA - tobias cooks! - 10.01.2010-10.02.2010

To say I was ecstatic was a vast understatement. I immediately showed my husband, he told me I should enter my Sarma (stuffed cabbage) recipe. For those of you that don't know, My husbands family is from Croatia. We raise our son in a bilingual home steeped in Croatian cuisine. I love Croatian cuisine!

So, I thought if I was going to enter, the least I could do is post the recipe for you as well. It is a bit challenging the first few times if you have not made stuffed cabbage before, but after a few times you will get the hang of it. This recipe is my husband's mom's recipe. I have included as many tips as I could to help you learn how to make this dish. Many of my tips have come after lots of trial and error. But, please do not let this recipe scare you. It is a time consuming, but oh so delicious! Par it with a nice crusty bread and a side of mashed potatoes and you will magically be transported over the Adriatic sea to the heart of Zagreb!

Sarma (Stuffed Cabbage)

1 medium head of cabbage
2t salt
1t oil
1 small onion minced
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground veal
1 cup rice (not the instant type)
1T paprika
1T vegeta
Salt and Pepper
2 bags Sauerkraut
1 can tomato soup
2T oil
2T flour

1. Start a large pot of water boiling. The pot must be large enough to fit an entire head of cabbage. While the water is warming up, cut the core out of the head of cabbage and add about 2 t of salt to the hole where you removed the core. Once the water is boiling, add the cabbage carefully so as not to burn yourself. Boil a medium head of cabbage for about 8 minutes. I usually peel the top few leaves off as it cooks.

*Tip: Once the cabbage has boiled, carefully remove (without burning your fingers)the outer most leaves. They should come off very carefully without shredding. Put these removed leaves in cool water. SAVE the hot water for the inner most leaves which will still be tough.

2. Saute the minced onion and garlic in a bit of oil. Cook simply until translucent, do not brown!

3. Mix your meats. (I have used a veal/pork/beef combo and other times I only use pork and beef. Both are really good!) This is the part where you are going to get dirty! Combine the meat, garlic and onions, rice, paprika, salt and pepper, vegeta, and 2 nice hand fulls of sauerkraut. Let it squish between your fingers!

*Tip: Always use the bagged sauerkraut, NOT the stuff in the can! Also, when you put the sauerkraut in the meat do NOT rinse it. You do not need to add any extra juice, just the sauerkraut.

4. Now stuff! Take a small handful of meat and place it at the top 1/3rd of the leaf. Fold over the top of the cabbage to cover the meat and then tuck in the sides (like when wrapping a present). Continue to roll it down until all of the leaf is rolled. Repeat this process with all the leaves and meat.

*Tip: If you hit the inner leaves and are having difficult rolling them you can do one of two things. 1. Put those leaves back in the hot water you orig. boiled the cabbage in. Or, 2. Stick it in the micro for 10 second batches until soft enough to roll.

5. Prepare the pot. In a large stock pot, make a roux by adding 2T oil and 2T flour. Mix and cook until four turns a light golden brown. Watch carefully so you do not burn the flour. (If you do carefully dump out and start again. Once brown, add 1 can of tomato soup, 1/2 a bag of sauerkraut, (You want to drain this bag of sauerkraut. Do NOT rinse just simply drain!) and a few cans of water. Next, start layering in the cabbage rolls. Do a layer of cabbage and then a layer sauerkraut until all are gone. Then, add enough water to submerge the cabbage rolls. Cover and cook on a slow simmer for 2 hours.

*Tip: RESIST the urge to stir! Instead carefully shake the pot every once in a while. Taste the soup, if too salty, add a bit more water. If bland, add more vegeta.

Serve with mashed potatoes and warm crusty bread. It's even better the next day when the seasonings have had a chance to meld together!

Dobar Tek!


  1. Stuffed Cabbage, what a great winter dish. Thanks for participating! Cheers Tobias

  2. I hope you win!! I love Sarma lol and this recipe sounds fab!

  3. Thanks. Sarma is awesome...you can't have Croatian cooking without it! Don't forget to go back and vote!

  4. I adore sarma! (I'm Croatia, too) and my mum traditionally makes it on New Year's day.

  5. Hello Divas! You have won the 4th mediterranean cooking event - croatia. Congratulations.


    Please contact me and send me your postal address. cheers!