Karlynn Johnston's Holopchi (Ukrainian cabbage rolls)

A cabbage roll recipe that uses medium-grain rice and a no-boil method for cabbage

Image for Karlynn Johnston's Holopchi (Ukrainian cabbage rolls)

Like for perogies and borscht, everyone has their own recipe for cabbage rolls. Cookbook author and blogger Karlynn Johnston is no exception. 

Image for Karlynn Johnston's Holopchi (Ukrainian cabbage rolls)

Here, she shows how both of her grandmothers made them with a recipe that the family still sticks to today. It's a recipe that she's sharing in her cookbook, The Prairie Table, in which she invites readers to celebrate the prairie life, as well as its Ukrainian heritage, with her through the more than 100 recipes in the book. 

These cabbage rolls freeze well, so you can make a big batch and pull them out any night you need dinner without doing much cooking.

2 cups medium- or short-grain rice, uncooked
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup finely diced white onion
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
2 to 3 cans your favourite condensed tomato soup, or 2 1/2 cups tomato juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 large green cabbage, core removed, frozen in a plastic bag overnight and thawed in the morning

Rinse the rice thoroughly, then cook according to package directions, taking 3 minutes off the cooking time. The rice should be slightly underdone. Drain the rice and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process, then drain again completely. Transfer to a large bowl.

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and fry the onion until it’s soft and translucent, around 15 minutes. Add the ground beef and pork and fry until no longer pink. Drain off the grease and let the meat cool in the pan.

Once cool enough to touch, transfer the meat and onions to the large bowl and combine gently with the rice.

Pour a ½ cup of the condensed soup or juice into the rice mixture, and add the salt and pepper. Mix the meat, soup, and rice together gently until combined. Set the filling aside.

Unfurl the cabbage leaves, using the most tender medium-sized leaves first.

Spoon about 3 tablespoons of filling onto each leaf, depending on the leaf size. Roll the cabbage leaf around the filling, then tuck the ends in toward the middle of the roll. Most recipes don’t tuck the ends, but we’ve found that if you push them in after rolling, more often than not they stay tucked in.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place some cabbage trimmings in the bottom of a large greased roasting pan that has a lid.

Place 2 dozen cabbage rolls seam side down onto the trimmings.

Dilute the soup in the opened can with an equal amount of water, and prepare the second can of soup with the required amount of water (see the can directions). If you are using tomato juice, use 3 cups of juice. Pour a third of the soup or juice over the first layer. Place another layer on top of the first, then top with half of the remaining soup. Repeat for a third layer and top with the last of the soup. If you like more sauce, you can mix a third can of soup with water and pour it over.

Place the lid on the pan and cook for 2½ to 3 hours, until the cabbage leaves are tender.

Remove and serve hot.

3 to 4 dozen rolls
Prep Time:
1 hour