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Mama Vicky's Golubki

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    Posted: 14 December 2010 at 12:16
Ukraine has always been a crossroads land, yet a unique area of Eastern Europe.  Its peoples refer to themselves uniquely as "Ukrainian", rather than anything else.
 

The Polish-Ukrainian war split the Ukraine into two parts; the western half which became parts of the Polish Empire and the eastern half which was absorbed into Russia.

Lvov, a large city in Polish Ukraine as the western half became known, was where Mama Vicky's parents were from. At some point after the First World War, they moved to Poznan, a city in far western Poland about 200 miles from the German border. This is where mom was born in 1931 (?) and raised.

With that background you can imagine the variety of foods she has made for us~ The following recipe is for her family's version of Golubki, much different than the more familiar tomato based ones.
 
Ukrainian, Hungarian and some Polish golubkis are thickened with a white sauce or sour cream, dependent upon the recipe's origin. Other Eastern European regions stay with the traditional thinnner tomato sauce (thanks to the wonderful Culinaria series of cookbooks, Mrs Rivet helped me research and confirm this. We looked in the Russia, Hungary, Greece and Germany volumes). Now, mom made it with tomato sauce too, but that was the summer time version. The thick sauced was the winter time version when they did not have any tomatoes available "one used what one had" she says. As Ron has posted in another similar thread, every village and every home has their "authentic" recipe that is the signature version, and everyone else's not quite right. That thinking is certainly still in force in Eastern Europe! 
 
The reason I never had this one before was due to the trauma my dad endured~ stay with me.
 
As a child born in 1924, his formative years were during the Great Depression, and tales of sometimes having nothing to eat but "lard balls" (little round balls of softened lard rolled in powdered sugar) for supper may very well be true. As well, during this time he was subjected to, and learned to hate, white sauce. White sauce is cheap, easy to make and can stretch for miles, making a meal for as many as can fit at the table. Now then, at 18, just graduated from high school in 1942, he was drafted into the Army. What was he met with? Endless amounts of SOS (Sh** On a Shingle) the GI's name for......white sauce! (The shingle part was the cooled rubbery toast it was and probably still is, served over). He was a gunner in the South Pacific for the duration of the war and often times during the island-hopping he endured  (Guadalcanal, Vella Lavella, Morotai, New Guinea, Halmahera etc) the supply ships would be sunk and they would have nothing to eat for weeks other than the once-a-day-rationed SOS and maybe powdered eggs. The other meal available was the one they brought onshore with them in their pockets and packs. These were the combat K-rations, but soon ran out since they didn't carry more than a couple day's worth per man. A K-ration is essentially one tin of something, crackers and cigarettes. So much for variety.
 
I can vouch that as recently as my service in the Army, SOS was a staple in the chowhalls.
 
It is understandable that when he was discharged in 1946, he swore never to eat white sauce again. It makes perfect sense then, that this winter version of Mama Vicky's golubki never graced our table...
 
So, with enough background, I will present my first-time making of Mama Vicky's golubki. Here's the shopping list for the ingredients you will need to make this magnificent old-world meal:
 
1 1/2 LBS lean ground beef
1 leafy white/green (not red) head of cabbage about 2 lbs
2 eggs
1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups whole milk (2% and skim won't work as well)
1 large white or yellow onion. Mom says the sharp hot white ones work better.
1 cup cooked regular medium or long grained white rice
About 1/2 cup (plus) all purpose white flour
About 1/4 cup table salt (this is total- you don't eat it all)
4 or 5 tablespoons fresh cracked black pepper. If using pre-ground regular pepper, reduce by about 1/3
4 or 5 tablespoons oil, olive or vegetable. I used olive.
 
That's it! You can serve this with boiled potatoes, dark rye bread and some "little water" (wodka) for a traditional Polish meal! The Basmati rice is my variation because we like its nutty flavor and we had some in the house. Any regular short grained white rice is traditional. 
 
There are several key steps to this golubki, and one of them is to caramelize the onions well before mixing into the meat, so I began by doing exactly that. Mom also said that the rice must be cooked first, though it can be a bit hard and not cooked all the way.
 
After following her advice, I let the rice and onions to cool off and got started with the rest of the preparation. I beat up two eggs, added about a teaspoon each salt and pepper, then the onions and about the equivalent of a cup cooked rice and mixed it all well. Her tip was that one should be generous with the pepper for a good taste.
 
Next up, I'll steam the cabbage and roll up them "little pigeons"! 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 December 2010 at 12:33
looks great, and the winter variation makes perfect sense! keep this one going and keep it true, or i'm gonna tell MOM! Evil Smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 December 2010 at 12:40

LOL No worries, Buddy this one is gonna be all true to her recipe. I already got chastised this past weekend when I asked her about putting cheese in it :  "Jahnee, vy do you vant to change trah-dee-shon?" she said in "that tone" so no worries, its gonna be right from the get go!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 December 2010 at 15:03
Okay, so after the meat was mixed and ready, we had to steam the cabbage. To do this, put it in a pot with about 3 inches of water and a generous tablespoon salt. Heat to boil, cover, then turn down. After a while the cabbage is steamed, not too much, just enought to get the leaves pliable and slightly soft. Make sure you save the cabbage water....this is needed later.
 
To roll the cabbage leaves, take one off the head, trim off the thick woody base, place a nice 2 or 3 ounce oval of meat on it and roll up as you would a burrito...easy as pie. Some of the fatter ones with the inner leaves need to be secured closed with toothpicks.
 
Now for the second unique step of these Golubki, the browning. In a skillet with about 2 tablespoons butter and one or two of olive oil, heat to medium hot. Meanwhile, take rolled gloubki and dredge them through a plate of well-salted flour, and shake excess off. Set into hot fat and brown, about 30 seconds per side. They brown quickly, so don't leave them alone. Turn them over, and when done, remove and put into a casserole. Once tucked in, take out any toothpicks. The browning cabbage smells great! 
 
Next up, is the white sauce for the baking. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a pan and add 2 tablespoons flour, mix well and get the flour starting to brown, then immediately add three or four ladles of the reserved cabbage water and stir well over very low heat to dissolve the flour mix into the liquid. Once this is done - it may take a while, the trick to this step is patience -  add a cup to a cup and a half whole milk and continue stirring constantly. As the mixture thickens and cooks, add 1 teaspoon salt and a very generous amount of cracked black pepper. Can't add too much at this step, this is what gives the wintertime warmth and lusciousness to the meal.
 
It is going to take about half an hour or so over med low heat to cook properly. Taste the sauce regularly, you don't want any raw flour taste to it. If it starts drying out before ready, keep ladling the cabbage water into it as you need. The recipe only calls for 1 to 1 1/2 cups whole milk, the reminder of the flavor and liquid comes from the cabbage water. Keep stirring and be patient. Once it's done and the flavor is right, pour the entire pan over the golupkis...they should be covered about 1/2 way up in the casserole dish.
 
Cover tightly with foil, and put into a preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour. When that hour is over, take off the foil and put back in for another half an hour......
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 December 2010 at 15:07
very nice - i really need to give these a try!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Boilermaker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 December 2010 at 17:40
Wow!  You're killin' me.  That looks fantastic.

I just made another 2 big pans of Hoser's golabki Sunday night and will try this as a different variation.

 BTW, I know we've discussed cheese on golabki so I put a sprinkling of parmesan on each plate of Hoser's golabki the other night when I served it and it was really good, don't tell Mama 'cause it ain't authentic, but it sure was good.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 December 2010 at 03:35
Wow! This is way different from anything I've seen yet...and sounds fantastic! You know this is going on Hoser's must do list....can't wait to taste the difference between that and my traditional.Clap

I don't think I've ever seen a better example of a peasant food recipe...our undying gratitude to Mama VickyHug
Go ahead...play with your food!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 December 2010 at 10:37
Well, thanks you all, I do appreciate the kind words and will definitely pass them on to mom. It is her recipe and I'm just following instructions. It does smell so good though, fresh cabbage, meat, sauce. I bet it would be even better if the browning was done using bacon fat!
 
Here we are after the final half-hour baking uncovered-
 
 
 
Nice and golden and looking really good. 
 
Served them up and it was outstanding. The meat was firm, cooked all the way thorough - the cabbage held its own- probably due to the browning. The gravy was definitely tasy with the cabbage water, and the (what I thought excessive amounts of) pepper was just right after all the baking to give it a richness without being too peppery. It all worked together well. No doubt that this is a winter meal, stick-to-the-ribs filling that will warm anyone to the bone during a cold winter's evening. Mrs Rivet loved it too, and it looks like this is going to become a winter regular over here!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 December 2010 at 13:11
well, it looks like mama rivet can rest assured that her little johnny did a good job - very nice! those look so savory and perfect for winter that i cannot imagine how good they would be, so i will indeed have to try them!
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