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My favorite samich of the season


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A lot of people in the circle I hang out in are mentioning avocados as being such a big thing now. I'm going to have to do something with them besides guacamole.

Why did it take so long for great things like Mexican salsa, avocados, and sea salt caramel to take off?

I know olive oil sales in the USA tripled after WW2 when GI's returned home from Italy. Did the waves of illegal immigrants make salsa and avocados popular?

Today, Polish Pierogies are popular - in our commuter college, UMBC in the 70's, a friend whose mother was from Poland tossed me a couple of the cold, leftover pierogies he brought for lunch and as we devoured them our student union friends were asking, "What's a pierogie?"

My Polish-American mother used to send me, in the 60's, walking to a Polish Catholic church 1/2 mile from my house to buy the homemade ones on sale each Sunday as a fundraiser when it seemed only us Polacks knew about them. Somehow they became popular (Mrs. T's, etc.).  Most people still haven't discovered Golubkis (Polish stuffed cabbage).  From my recipe files folder, this is a compilation (including options) of the recipes and methods I was taught by some excellent Polish-American cooks I know:

Mickey’s Golubki Recipe

This recipe is scaled to use all of one head of cabbage – some of the cabbage is used to line the top and bottom of the cooking vessel.  This recipe will provide a generously sized dinner for four without side dishes, or six with side dishes.

INGREDIENTS

1 medium-large head of cabbage

1 large onion, chopped in long slices

approx. 3/8 cup – ½ cup vinegar

approx. ¼ cup water

16 oz-24 oz tomato sauce or 1 can condensed tomato soup (ketchup is sometimes substituted or added for greater sweetness) - I prefer tomato sauce.

½ measuring tablespoon honey or sugar (or approx. ¼ cup ketchup)

Note: diced or fresh tomatoes can be added as well.

Note2: my cousin Eleanor Bolinski, a great Polish-dishes cook (Duck's Blood Soup, etc.), says some people use spaghetti sauce instead of tomato sauce or tomato soup.

THE FILLING

1.5 cup (dry) any instant rice (follow box directions: makes about 2.25 cup cooked).

or ¾ cup of long-grained rice (see preparation instructions below).

     Rice Note 1: Any rice is ok:  Cooked rice volume (in cups) should be about the 1/2 to the same

                          as the total weight of ground meat (in pounds).  50% more or less rice

                          than that is generally ok if less or more “meaty” flavor is desired.

     Rice Note 2: If time permits, place rice in bowl and refrigerate:  Hot rice will tend to

                          break up and turn to mush when mixed, stirred, etc.

1 to 1.25 lb ground pork

1 to 1.25 lb ground beef

2 eggs

Optional: use veal with the pork and beef (“meatloaf mix” in supermarket: 2-2.5 lb) or

                just 2-2.5 lb beef.

Optional: add 1 packet onion soup mix or a finely diced medium-sized onion,

                or 1 tsp. garlic powder (recommended) or minced garlic.  

PREPARATION INSTRUCTIONS

1. Cut out the core of the large head of cabbage and place it, core end down, in boiling water for at least 45 minutes – if all isn’t covered by water, turn it every 15 minutes – watch for burn marks.  The cabbage leaves should become somewhat limp.  After boiling, place the cabbage in cold water.  (Some cooks simply freeze the whole head then thaw it out, resulting in the desired limpness.)

2. In a 3-quart pot, cook the rice as required by the rice’s recipe, then fluff it briefly and gently with a fork and allow it to cool at least a little.

3. Prepare the filling: to the rice add the eggs, ground beef, and ground pork, and any optional items and mix the ingredients thoroughly by hand.

4. Place a thin layer (perhaps ¼ cup of water) in the bottom of a baking dish (I use one about 4” deep and about 9” x 9” which is the minimum size needed for this recipe).  The water may not be necessary but it’s to keep the layer of cabbage leaves that comes next from burning on the bottom.

5. Place the loose leaves from the outer layer of the cabbage on the bottom of the baking dish.  Cut about one-third of a baseball sized Vidalia onion (or equivalent) into ¼ inch thick slices then into long thin slices.  Spread these over the cabbage leaves (If in doubt of sufficient cabbage, leftover cabbage leaves (with onions) can be saved for a top layer only).

6. Prepare the Cabbage Rolls:  Remove a cabbage leaf from the head as intact as possible.  If desired, pare the vein at the bottom of the leaf (recommended by most recipes, but not absolutely necessary).  Place the leaf on a plate.  Place a small amount (larger than a golf ball, smaller than a tennis ball) of the filling at the base of a cabbage leaf and roll it, tucking in the sides.  These can be made quite large (like “quarter pounders”) with the outer leaves if desired, but traditionally the large leaves are divided into two.  Do not worry about sloppy wrapping or any tiny open spots: the long cooking period will result in the cabbage remaining wrapped around a fairly firm filling.

7. Place a layer of cabbages rolls, seams down, in the baking dish, on top of the cabbage layer.  When a layer is completed, sprinkle the top with lightly with vinegar, heavily with tomato sauce/soup, and with a small amount of honey or sugar or a good dose of ketchup.

8. If there is lots of cabbage to spare, place another layer of cabbage and onions on top of each cabbage roll layer.  After the last layer of cabbage rolls, top it off with any leftover cabbage, onions, and tomato sauce/soup.

9. Repeat steps 6 & 7 & 8.

10. Sprinkle the final top layer with vinegar and honey/sugar.

11. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F.  Cover the baking dish with a non-pressure lid or aluminum foil.  Bake for 3 hours.  Optional:  some cooks remove the lid last half hour if some browning is desired, but I don’t since saving as much “juice” as possible is very desirable.

12. Serve with alone or with vegetables of your choice.  Mashes potatoes with golobki “juice” are delicious.

 

Easy Preparation of Long-Grained Rice (Absorption Method)

Note: the “standard procedure” for the method below is 2 cups of water for every cup of long-grained rice or 1 ½ cups of water for every cup of short-grained rice.  I always add an extra ¼ cup of water so that the rice will not absorb too much of the tomato-based golubki “juice” during the 3-hour oven preparation.

1. Add ¾ cup of long-grained rice to 1 ¾ cups of boiling water in a small pot.  Stir (always with a spoon).

2. When boiling begins again cover and set heat to “simmer”.

3. Simmer for 12 minutes (do NOT lift cover).

4. Remove from heat and allow to stand for 18 minutes.  Lift cover and stir.

      Note: If rice is still hard in the middle, add a small amount (2-4 tablespoons) of

      hot water, heat with gentle spoon stirring until boiling begins.

5. Remove from heat and allow to stand 18 minutes

6. If time permits, refrigerate the rice before using:  Hot rice will tend to break up and turn to mush when handled (mixed, stirred, etc).

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Sometimes it takes a while to hit certain regions.  Avocado has been a thing in SoCal as long as I can remember.  Back in my bachelor days I used to mash an avocado with my favorite jarred salsa with some bud light and tear that sheot up.

When the dreaded MIL visits from VA she always gets a bunch of them as they are expensive and fairly hard to find there.

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