Pork and cabbage are two very important ingredients in the Romanian cuisine.
Pork and cabbage are two very important ingredients in the Romanian cuisine. No wonder the cabbage rolls and the Cluj baked sour cabbageare always on top of the Romanians preferences. A traditional meal in all the Balkan countries, though claimed by each country, cabbage rolls are original from Turkey where they were called sarmak. In Turkey, the original recipe consisted of minced beef mixed with rice and raisins all wrapped in vine leaves, but in other countries the vine leaves have been replaced with cabbage or sauerkraut, and the meat was replaced by pork, chicken, or even fish.
The traditional Romanian recipe for cabbage rolls uses sauerkraut wraps and pork. For that you need one or two heads of sauerkraut of medium size. Place cabbage leaves in cold water to take out excess salt. You need 1.5 kg of pork, mixed with one cup of rice and two finely chopped onions; cut off the thick veins of the cabbage leaves to wrap them more easily around the meat. Then we place them in the pot together with some dry thyme, a bit of tomato juice, cover them in water and boil them at low heat for a couple of hours. Add some bacon as for the smoky flavour. Serve hot with cream on top, some polenta and, why not, a glass of red wine.
A famous recipe from Transylvania is the renown Cluj baked sour cabbage. Take two average size heads of sauerkraut, 1-1/2 kilogram of pork with some fat on it, a handful of rice, two or three onions, salt and pepper. Chop finely the onion, then put the pork through the mincing machine. Melt some lard and sauté in it the onion with the pork. Finely slice the cabbage, then sauté it separately in lard as well. Boil the rice in salted water, then mix it in with the minced meat with onion. Take a large stovetop pot, at least 3 or 4 liters capacity, then start layering the contents. Put in alternative layers of meat and cabbage, with a bit of sauerkraut in between the layers. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then put the pot in the oven at medium heat for about a quarter of an hour. This can be served with a glass of semidry wine at room temperature. Enjoy!