Last Updated on 6 months by Tim
In terms of dumplings, these cabbage rolls are without a doubt the most delicious thing German cuisine has to offer. Juicy sauerkraut and succulent
It’s a shame this dish is hard to come by outside of its place of origin. Even in Southern Germany, this dish will hardly be featured on restaurant menus as its preparation can be labor intensive and it is not readily available as instant food.
On the other hand, the ingredients for these cabbage rolls are as basic as it gets. I’m sure all of the ingredients are easy to come by if you live in the Western hemisphere. So, if you want to experience a simple dish that is so much more than the sum of its parts this is it.
It all starts with pasta dough
I’ve talked about pasta dough quite a few times on this blog already. In Germany, it is generally referred to as ‘Nudelteig’ which literally translates to ‘noodle dough’. It is the same dough the Italians use to make pasta.
The general rule of thumb is to add 1 egg per 100 g (3.5 ounces) of flour. Then you proceed to slowly add water to the dough until it just starts coming together, no more than a few tablespoons. After kneading, the dough needs to be rested in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to relax the gluten strands. Otherwise, you won’t be able to roll out the dough as thinly as needed.
For cabbage rolls, I prefer to roll out the dough by hand so that I end up with one big dough sheet on which I can spread my filling. The dough doesn’t need to be rolled out as thinly as for tortellini or wontons. It can be a little thicker than paper as it needs to hold a lot of filling.
The filling for cabbage rolls is super simple
While your pasta dough is resting, you’ll have plenty of time to prepare your filling.
I start by sauteing small bacon cubes in a dry pan to render the fat. Then I stir in some ground caraway seeds before adding the sauerkraut. The sauerkraut should be drained before adding it and briefly cooked with the bacon and caraway mixture so that it is relatively dry and doesn’t leak any liquid.
Once all the excess liquid has evaporated, I season the filling with a little touch of sugar to balance the acidity and saltiness of the sauerkraut. Of course, many more spices and seasonings could be added to the sauerkraut but for this dish, in my opinion, keeping it simple yields the best results.
How to assemble and cook your cabbage rolls
To make the cabbage rolls, you roll the dough over itself as if making cinnamon rolls. Then you can proceed to cut the large cabbage roll sausage into smaller individual pieces.
The assembled cabbage rolls get seared in clarified butter. Once they are golden brown on the bottom and a nice crust has formed, you can proceed to add in about 1/4-1/2 cup of beef broth. Cover the pan and let the cabbage rolls steam until all the beef broth has disappeared. Once cooked, open the lid and let the bottoms crisp up again for 2-3 minutes.
For serving, sprinkle the cabbage rolls with chives. Traditionally, cabbage rolls are eaten with a tangy green salad on the side.