Crockpot Cabbage Rolls – try my traditional cabbage rolls with ground pork, rolled in sour cabbage leaves and slowly cooked in a crockpot. So simple and a definitely a favorite!
Boy, do I have a treat for you guys today! Many times I feel bad that I don’t show you more traditional Romanian recipes, but the truth of the matter is that I pretty much gave you all the Romanian recipes I already know, and you’ll find them in my earlier posts here.
Romanian cuisine is really about meat and potatoes, but if there’s one thing that we’re known for, that would be our cabbage rolls. Cabbage rolls are something I usually make for the holidays, because that’s what my mom always does so I associate cabbage rolls with Christmas or Easter. However, sometimes I do miss cabbage rolls and I’ll make them throughout the year.
The most common question you guys have always asked me has been if you can make these cabbage rolls in a crockpot. The answer, my friends, is absolutely yes! In fact the crockpot is perfect for cabbage rolls. If you check out my other cabbage roll recipe, you’ll notice that I bake mine for a few hours, so doing this during the holiday season can be a pain, since you need your oven for other things. This is why the crockpot is so perfect for cabbage rolls. What I usually do is prepare them the night before, and turn the slow cooker on in the morning, and by dinner time your house will smell incredible and you’ll have some nice and delicious cabbage rolls.
But what makes Romanian cabbage rolls different, you ask. The main difference is that we pretty much always use sour cabbage which obviously flavors the rolls and makes them a bit saltier, which is why I don’t use a lot of salt in the meat mixture. I also like using sour cabbage because the leaves are already soft and it makes it easy to make the rolls, because if you use regular cabbage you have to blanch the cabbage yourself, see the notes section in the recipe for instructions on how to do this. It’s really up to you though if you use sour cabbage or not, I personally prefer the sour cabbage because I find them a lot tastier. Another thing we also do, and really I do this because that’s what my mom has always done, is add some smoked meat in the pot with the cabbage rolls, and you’ll want it to be smoked for that smoky flavor. I usually use either smoked bacon or smoked ham, whatever I find at the store. This is totally optional of course, but to tell you the truth, it’s probably one of our favorite things we love about these cabbage rolls.
It makes me really happy to share this recipe with you because this is the kind of food I grew up on and this truly represents the way I like to cook. I sincerely hope you enjoy this recipe and give it a try, and if you do, I’d love to hear from you!
Check out the video to see how to make these incredible cabbage rolls!
- 2 lb sour cabbage leaves *
- 2 lb ground pork
- 1/2 cup long grain rice uncooked
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh dill chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- 8 oz smoked meat such as smoked bacon, cut into small pieces (optional)
- 4 cups tomato juice
Add the sour cabbage leaves to a large bowl and fill the bowl with cold water. Let the leaves soak in the water for few minutes. This will wash out some of the saltiness from the leaves. Drain the water. If some of the leaves are too big, cut them in half, if making smaller cabbage rolls.
In a large bowl mix together the ground pork, rice, chopped onion, dill, parsley, salt and pepper. Use your hands to incorporate everything well together. Be careful with the salt, not too much is needed because the sour cabbage is already salty.
Fill each leaf with about a couple tbsp of the meat mixture and roll. Repeat with all the remaining meat and cabbage.
If you have any cabbage left over, chop it up and spread it over the bottom of the crockpot. Arrange all the cabbage rolls in the crockpot. If adding smoked meat, add it now over the cabbage rolls. Pour all the tomato juice over the cabbage rolls. Cover the crockpot.
Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Serve with polenta or mashed potatoes and a dollop of sour cream on top.
* I usually find sour cabbage leaves at my local grocery store like Sobey's or Safeway, but you can also find them at European markets. You can also order it from amazon here.
You can use fresh cabbage instead of sour cabbage, but more work is required. You first have to blanch the cabbage. To do so, core the cabbage first, one large cabbage should be enough for this recipe. In a large pot of boiling slated water, add the cabbage and blanch it for 5 to 8 minutes or until leaves are softened. Remove from the pot and chill under cold water.
Another alternative to softening the cabbage leaves is to wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it for a couple days. Remove the cabbage from the freezer and thaw it out at room temperature. Once the cabbage has thawed out, the leaves should be softened.
You can find a recipe for my creamy polenta here.
Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.