Calling all Polish grandmothers - how do you deal with this cabbage?

There are many recipes online for a deconstructed cabbage roll casserole, with layered cabbage and filling; no rolling or anything like that required.

I use Jimmy Dean sausage or fresh sausage, beef, rice, onion, an garlic. We roll and simmer in tomato juice on the stovetop. They are quite simple, but surprisingly good… I’ve also seen them made with onions, peppers, bacon, tomatoes and sauerkraut.

That’s how I finally dealt with my husband’s request for stuffed cabbage rolls. However, now that I know to boil the whole head of cabbage and peel, I’ll try again this winter.

That’s how we do it too - tastes the same at the end of the day, and it’s hours less work.

Yep. We do that, too. And my cousin makes a pierogie casserole, too, layering mashed potatoes/fried onions/cheese/mushrooms - whatever - using eggroll wrappers, like lasagna noodles. And plenty of melted butter.

My home town had lots of Ukrainians around as I was growing up, and I remember a friend’s mother boiling her cabbage with a canning rack or some such thing. That makes it much easier (and safer!) to get in and out of the pot. Maybe it was a deep-fryer basket, but I don’t remember it having the high sides.

I’d probably wimp out and just make a casserole instead, and get some frozen pierogies.

Ha, and here I thought I was Miss Smartypants by inventing my own cabbage roll casserole! My husband loves them and I thought (and he concurred), “why go to all the work when you’re just going to destroy the rolls the minute they hit the plate?”

Then again, I’m 100% Not Polish and he’s French/Cajun.

I’ve never had the casserole versions, but it just wouldn’t seem the same to me. Boiling and peeling a cabbage isn’t as bad as you all seem to make it. Sure, it takes a little time. Depending on size, you just let the cored cabbage boil through for about an hour, pull it out, and peel the leaves away with iron, desensitized, fingertips. No need to pull out at intervals and peel. I’m sorry but the casseroles just aren’t the same at all, it’s much too dry and the texture wouldn’t be right. And anyways, pigs in the blanket are a special occasion dish and deserve the little bit of extra attention and work.

The only real shortcut to making pigs in the blanket is making stuffed peppers instead.

Okay, first off, a few warnings – one, this is NOT health food. There’s a lot of butter, salt, fat, mashed potatos, etc. On the other hand, you probably won’t make them very often – they’re a LOT of work. My mother only makes them oh, maybe once or twice a year. We always have them at Christmas, but other than that, she makes them maybe, at Easter, or some other time, but that’s it.

The recipe itself isn’t difficult, but it requires a lot of hand work. You’ll probably need someone to help you out.

All right, I’m putting it in a spoiler, because it’s VERY long. Enjoy!

Grandma Sabol’s Pierogies

  • Dough (If you decide to double it — don’t double the recipe itself. Instead, make each batch separately!) 1 large egg, beaten
    • 2 cups flour
    • ½ teaspoon salt (1 pinch)
    • ½ cup water (approximately)

Mix the flour and salt together, then start to mix in the egg, and then add the water slowly until the dough is right consistency. Knead the dough until its soft, then cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for about ten minutes. Then roll out the dough thinly — about 1/8th of an inch thick. Cut into dough into rounds (my mom uses a round glass about 2-inches / 5-cm diameter) or into squares, with a knife or pastry / pasta cutter. Be sure to keep these covered till you are going to use them, with plastic wrap or a damp towel. You don’t want them to dry out before you get the filling into them.

  Mashed Potato Filling (This is the filling my mom uses, but there are all kinds of different types of filling — you can look in cookbooks and online for many different filling types.)
* NOTE: The measurements are very much a "guess-timate" — my mom has been making them for so long, she hardly ever bothers to measure! 8 large Idaho or Russet-Burbank (chip) potatoes, peeled, cubed
* 1 tablespoon salt
* 1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 oz / 125 g butter or margarine (my mom recommends butter — it tastes better!)
* 1 finely diced onion
* 6 to 8 oz / 170g to 225g cheddar cheese, grated or shredded 

Place the potatoes in a pot of cold water, making sure they are covered by an inch or so of water. Add the salt. Cover with a lid and cook on the stove top. Bring the water to a boil then take it down to a simmer; you can take off the lid if the water keeps overboiling. Cook till a skewer poked into a cube goes in, then comes out easily.

While the potatoes are boiling, melt the butter or margarine in a skillet, then add the onions and sautée over medium-low heat till the onions are softened and starting to brown.

When the potatoes are done, drain them well through a colander, then put back into the pot. Heat the water-less pot and shake or stir to dry out the potatoes a bit, 2 minutes or so. Add the sautéed butter onions and the grated cheese. Mash it all together with a masher. Allow the potatoes to cool enough to handle. Do not put the lid back on the pot, as that will cause water to condense back onto the potatoes.

* Assembly Dough
* Filling 

Using a small spoon, scoop up a bit of filling and put it into the center of the dough square or circle, then pinch the edges together tightly, being sure to eliminate as much air from inside the pierogy as possible.

These can be frozen if you aren’t going to cook them immediately. Put the finished pierogy on a plastic-wrap lined cookie sheet. Put another sheet over them, then freeze. When are are frozen solid, you can store the hard pierogy in a plastic bag or container and take out as many as you need.

* Cooking & Serving Fresh or frozen Pierogies
* 1 stick / 4 oz / 125g butter or margarine (again, my mom suggests butter!)
* 1 large onion, diced 

Boil a large pot of water. Add no more than 10 pierogies at a time into the hot water. The pierogies are cooked when they float to the top of the water surface. To drain them, use a slotted spoon and place them in serving dishes or on a clean dish towel to drain. Do not put into a sieve or colander, as they tend to fall apart if you do that. Repeat with the remaining pierogies.

Melt the butter in a skillet and fry up the onions. Top over the boiled pierogies while everything is hot, and serve immediately.

ALTERNATIVE: Drain the boiled pierogies very well and add a few at a time to the skillet with the butter and onions in it and fry them till they are lightly browned. Serve.

One batch makes about 3½ dozen pierogies.

BONUS: If you have leftover potato filling, you can heat it in a microwave oven and salt to taste.

Thank you, Guinastasia, for this recipe. I just made some ready for tonight and of course had to cook a couple (just to make sure they were right, y’know) and they are AWESOME. I adapted the recipe slightly, because I didn’t really need 3 1/2 dozen, but I now have a freezer and fridge full, and I’m about to take some round to my friend because I ran out of space! I used cheddar with chilli (because that was what I had), spring onions (ditto), and mashed the potatoes with yoghurt (having eaten a truly inexplicable amount of butter over the weekend). Inauthentic but heavenly.