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The Paulochik Family Halupki Recipe

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 08 May 2013 at 15:19
Following is an excellent account on making stuffed cabbage rolls, also known in Slovak cuisine as holúbky, holupki, pigs in a blanket, plnená kapusta and possibly other variations on the same theme.
 
This recipe reminds me a lot of the method that my wife's grandmother uses, and it goes to show that good things such as this are well-nigh universal. Like Mr. Paulochik, she would always simmer them in a pot on the stovetop, and would also add sauerkraut and tomatoes. I am particulary respectful of the way this method is explained; there is a lot of common sense here, along with helpful information that you simply can't quantify into a measured recipe. When I am making Grandma Mary's pigs in a blanket, I also rely on how the meat mixture smells to know if I am on the right track.
 
From http://www.iarelative.com/recipe/halupki.htm, with full credit going to Mr. Paulochik:
 
Quote The Paulochik Family Halupki Recipe as taught by Andrew Paulochik (born 1897 in Vinne, Slovakia) to his son Edmund Paul (born 1932 in Spangler, PA), who taught his son Paul Michael (born 1959 in Windber, PA):
 
Quote We still use this original recipe, which is sized for about 60 halupki - enough to feed 15 to 20. I've found they can be frozen about 2 months and still taste good, up to 4 months and still taste decent.
 
WARNING! Do not attempt this recipe with a cold or stuffed nose. Adding the dry ingredients to the meat is based on smell, not measured amounts - grandpa butchered animals on the farm and was a cook in the Hungarian Army in WW I, and he figured you can't count on the animals to give the same quality meat every time! Also, wash hands well and mix the meat with bare hands!!! Rubber or plastic gloves leave a taste behind, and even wooden mixing spoons just don't do the job.
 
Cabbage - 2 heads for this recipe
3 lb. Ground chuck
3/4 lb. Ground pork
Salt & pepper
2 eggs
Garlic powder
Paprika
1/2 of a 2" onion, sauteed in 1/4 lb. butter
Just under 1 cup rice and equal amount water
1 large can (28 oz.) Silver Floss sauerkraut
1 large can (28 oz.) Hunts Tomato Sauce
1 large can (28 oz.) Hunts Crushed Tomato
 
Prepare the cabbage - puncture the core with a knife, and boil about 45 minutes (if using two heads, boil separately). After cooling, prepare the leaves - pull them off the head in as large a piece as you can. You'll probably have to take thin slices off the spines and thicker veins.
 
Mix the meat together and smell it. Remember the smell of the meat. Sprinkle on a little salt and pepper, and knead the mixture by hand. Smell again. Keep adding salt and pepper until it just barely masks the smell of the meat.
 
Cook the rice until all the water is absorbed. Set aside.
 
Mix the eggs into the meat mixture. Smell the mixture - remember the smell. Sprinkle in a little garlic powder and paprika; knead well. Keep mixing in small amounts of garlic powder and paprika until you can detect a garlic smell. Add the juice from the sauerkraut, the rice, sauteed onions, and 1/3 cup of the tomato sauce. Mix thoroughly.
 
Put a small amount of oil in the bottom of a BIG pot. Roll a small handful of the meat mixture into a firm oval; wrap with a cabbage leaf. Tuck the edges into the roll. Line the bottom of the pot with the halupki; cover with a little bit of the sauerkraut, some tomato sauce, and a layer of leaves.
 
Keep building layers, using the "bad" and small cabbage leaves for the layering. Top with the crushed tomatoes, remaining sauerkraut, and the very top is cabbage leaves. Add enough water to totally cover.
 
Stick a wooden spoon down to the bottom (CAREFULLY, along the side of the pot) to break any air bubbles between the layers - do NOT puncture any of the halupki! - and add more water, if necessary. Repeat this several times, because air between the layers will make a terrific mess when the pot begins to boil!
 
Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down; simmer for at least four hours, then keep warm until served. We always prepare the halupki the night before - simmer two hours, turn off the heat overnight (do NOT refrigerate!! Just leave the pot on the stove), and simmer another two hours the next morning.
 
Serve with mashed potatoes and milk - although a dry white wine also works well. A lot of work, but well worth it!
 
I tried to contact Mr. Paulochik in order to open up a dialogue with him.  I wanted to ask about the 2-inch onion, boiling the cabbage for 45 minutes and a couple of other things; however, the email I sent was undeliverable, so I can only tell you to use your own judgement where these two items are concerned. It seems to me that the stated size of the onion is too small, and that the boiling time for the cabbage is quite long; however, I cannot say for sure. As for leaving them over-night half-cooked and covered on the stovetop, I'd definitely try it, to see how the flavour develops - but in today's world, I probably wouldn't recommend it to anyone else. I am confident that the acid and salt content along with the two cooking stages would preclude any food-borne problems, but this would be my decision to make - you must make your own.
 
In any case, this is a truly unique and valued first-hand archive of a much-loved food tradition in Slovkaia, and I am honoured to help to preserve it.
 
Ron
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Rod Franklin View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 May 2013 at 19:47
That recipe has a lot of strange goings on. I would not follow it.

However, this recipe is very similar to my paternal family's recipe. It is familiar to me. Filled cabbage is one of the very few things that was actually taught to us youngsters in a group as something that must be known and passed down. I remember being in Grandmas kitchen with a bunch of cousins, male and female, grinding meat, fighting with a blistering hot head of cabbage, trimming leaves, rolling and layering.

Then everyone meeting again the next day at the bacon roast to feast! (http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/bacon-on-a-stick_topic255_post947.html?KW=bacon+roast#947) Filled cabbage, dark bread and butter, roasted bacon sandwiches with tomato and onion and green pepper and home made dill pickles, hulka and kolbasz, smoked fish, abalt szalonna, cucumber salad, cottage cheese pie and pastries.

I don't know how I've lived this long. Sorry for the tread jack.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 May 2013 at 21:28
Quote That recipe has a lot of strange goings on. I would not follow it

I'm guessing that you're talking about the leaving overnight on the stove-top? I wouldn't hesitate to try it, for comparison. The reference to the 2-inch onion and 45-minute boil of the cabbage bother me more than anything else.

Quote I don't know how I've lived this long

I hear ya ~ All these things we did before we "knew better," and yet somehow we survived the experience, along with the millions who never were enlightened....I'm guilty of it myself, so absolutely no criticism implied. Take butter and pork fat: first, everyone used it; then, they avoided it like the plague - now, they use it again, in moderation. Meanwhile, the old-timers who have been using it all along (and probably smoking like chimneys, too) celebrate their 101st birthdays.....


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2013 at 05:44
Hey Tas, Overnight on the stove top isn't an issue with me. There is a ton of heat stored in that mass of food and it would cook more overnight. I'm sure all being sanitized thoroughly after being boiled covered for 2 hours.

Anyway, it starts for me with the glove comment, and goes down hill from there. Boiling of cabbage for 45 minutes before processing it. Smelling meat to tell if it has enough salt. Cooking the rice first.  Not enough onions then cooked in butter. All that water. Eggs? Ever taste burned cabbage? I guarantee you'll find it in the bottom of the pot if you cook this on the stove top.

1 head of cabbage - try to find those big oval shaped ones instead of the round ones that are in supermarkets today.
2 1/2 lbs. ground beef - ground chuck is OK.
2 lbs. ground pork
1 lb. bacon
2 Tbs salt
1 Tbs ground black pepper
1 Tbs paprika
3 medium onions - chopped fine
3 big cloves of garlic - chopped fine
2 cups white rice
1 46 oz container of tomato juice
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes in juice - No extra spices, herbs or vegetables.
3 Tbs sugar

Core the cabbage head and steam it. Remove leaves as you can. Trim the center ribs to thin the leaves so you can roll them later. Set the leaves aside to cool.
Chop bacon and fry till almost crisp. Set bacon aside to cool then chop it fine. Leave the rest of the grease in the pan.
In your biggest non-reactive pot with a lid, coat the inside completely with some of the bacon grease.
Fry the onions till soft but not brown in the remaining bacon fat. Add the garlic and turn off the heat and stir to cook till things cool somewhat  Set the pan aside to cool.
In your biggest bowl and using your hands, mix the meats, salt, pepper, bacon, paprika, rice, onion/garlic and all the grease.
Stuff, but not too tightly, the cabbage leaves. Rolling them sort of like making burritos.
Fill the greased pot. Sauerkraut, leftover cabbage, rolls, diced tomato, cabbage/kraut, rolls, diced tomato, cabbage/kraut, rolls, etc. Finish with some kraut.
Mix the sugar into the tomato juice and pour it over everything.
Cover the pot and bake at 350F for 3.5 to 4 hours.

This makes a bunch.

There are similarities and there are differences.





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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2013 at 06:41
a-ha! i'm on the same page with you now ~ 

i definitely would line the bottom of the pot as well, and have never used eggs, but would try them just to see what it's like. agree on the onion (2-inch simply can't be correct) and boiling time. the going by smell interests me, because i do that as well, to a degree. for me, it's more about the pepper and garlic than the salt. i've never pre-boiled the rice, but we've always used instant rice - except for one time. that one time, i should have at least par-boiled it. i've never added water, either, because the tomatoes (juice, sauce etc) provide enough liquid to cover. correction: i added water once, because i used kasha and there was a little left-over water from soaking it. if i were to try this recipe and add water, i'd use the cabbage-boiling water.

some of those issues are just little tweaks, but as you say, some would change the recipe altogether. but i suppose between regional and familial variations, there's bound to be some of that. the one in the opening post, to me, is interesting from an historical aspect, and as such, i'd definitely try it (with one or two of the above-mentioned tweaks, such as lining the pot, using a bigger onion etc. - simply because they make logical sense).

but, the big thing is, i now have TWO recipes to try! yours looks good, too, and has a couple of interesting twists that i've never tried (bacon and sugar). sometime this year, i'll give it a shot!

thanks for sharing ~
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2013 at 07:13
I wasn't going to say anything. But as soon as I read it, I thought that recipe was a shuck.

For openers, this supposed old-family recipe, dating back three generations, specifically calls for brand-name canned goods. I don't think so.

Then, when it says to keep smelling the meat until the salt and pepper hide the aroma, well. Somebody give me a break!

Add in the other problems with technique and ingredient amounts, and you have to wonder if anyone ever actually made it.

And I certainly agree about the glove and wooden spoon comment. I'm a big believer in using just my hands. But the idea that those two items flavor a dish is just plain nonsense.

Me, I'd skip that recipe and go with Rod's instead.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2013 at 08:37
Hi, Brook - and thanks for chiming in.
 
Things like brand name canned goods are - to me - assumed to be substitutions for the fresh or possibly home-preserved ones that would have been used back in the day. Obviously, the grandfather would have not used Hunt's brand tomatoes etc., but when the grandson learned to make it from his dad in America, that's evidently what his family used, and that's what was taught to him. As I said, these are simply things I assume.
 
For the aroma, I think that there's a communication barrier there. I go by smell when I'm seasoning my pigs, and a few other things. Based on my experience, I'd say that the "hide the aroma" bit is simply a poor choice of words. To me, it's more like it reaches a point when it smells "right," and blends in with the meat to transform the mix into something that is more the sum of its parts. Measurements can't convey that, especially considering the inconsistent quality of meat that would have been available back in the grandfather's day. The "go by smell" thing is a carryover (albeit possibly a vestigal one) from that time.
 
I was thinking about the rubber gloves last night, and got to wondering what rubber gloves were like in the 50s or 60s, when the grandson would have been learning to make holupki. I remember what my mother's cleaning gloves smelled like in the 70s, and I was never a fan; could it be that simply smelling the gloves themselves, while probably not affecting the actual taste of the food, left an impression? I "over-indulged" on a certain brand of liqour during Senior Week of 1989 ~ to this day, the smell of it still makes me ill. As for the wooden spoon, I always assumed he meant that a wooden spoon wouldn't mix the ingredients good enough.
 
Finally, I keep in mind that grandfather, father and son were not ever, and never claimed to be, chefs - or even accomplished cooks. This is one family recipe and method that was passed down, in as straight a form as practicable, among men who probably rarely saw the kitchen. We all have an uncle or other male relative who makes one thing, and he is probably known for it. To me, this recipe and method is a look into this family's past, which to me, is part of what the forum is about.
 
I'll try it sooner or later, and I will tweak one or two things that I am sure are flat-out errors, but I will try to go for the essence of the story, and probably picture an immigrant father teaching his son to make them, who in turn taught his son. As a father of 4 boys, it calls to me - for I have taught them all to cook one or two thigs that they will be good at. I will also definitely try Rod's as well, as it simply looks damned good, and I'll be able to picture those cousins, learning to make them.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2013 at 15:09
I'm sure aroma could work when adjusting black pepper and garlic levels. When I make sausage I can't keep my nose out of it! That doesn't stop me from cooking some to taste test it. And with that same type of thinking, one could add the spices to my recipe before adding the rice and then cook a bit of it to test the taste. And thinking about it a little more, that change in procedure might be good insurance that things are just right before finishing the preparation.

I've thoroughly washed rubber kitchen gloves and used them as waterproof oven mits for a very quick removal of a boiled, deboned and trussed chicken from a pot of soup. I'm skeptical that very clean gloves would impart any flavor.

Do I smell a Tequila story?

I agree that mixing a big bowl of ground meat and stuff with a wooden spoon would be a frustrating mess. Sometimes there really isn't any substitute for getting into something with your bare, but scrupulously clean hands.

I got a cousin down Louisiana way. According to him, nothing cleans your hands better than a good crawfish boil! Yeah, wash your hands first.

You don't have to use bacon in my recipe. You could sub fresh pork fat, in which case you would have pork fat cracklins in your cabbage rolls. All in all, not a bad thing.Smile Back in the day fresh or smoked hog jowls were the deal, but I can't find fresh ones and smoked only rarely. And there was a real good chance a quart of home canned tomatoes were used too. Tomato juice in a can has been around forever. Sometimes you just have to make substitutions.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2013 at 15:14
Quote I got a cousin down Louisiana way. According to him, nothing cleans your hands better than a good crawfish boil! Yeah, wash your hands first.
 
Shocked
 
That one made my day! LOLClap
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jslamb22 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 November 2017 at 20:20
As a non savoy electronics person, i spent a half hour trying to figure out how to "log on" as a member to voice my opinion on Paulochiks family recipe. Authentic or not, who cares! Its now part of my family tradition and recipe that i share with my now 14 year old daughter. We've been using it for a few years. THROW AWAY THE MEASURING CUPS. After a few tries, you'll get it too. Absolutely the best ive made. Thanks Paulochiks for sharing
Jim
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 November 2017 at 09:33
Hi, Jim, and welcome to the Foods of the World Forum! We hope you stay a while, and if you have any tech questions at all, let us know. We'll do our best to help with them.

I absolutely love this part of your post:

Originally posted by Jim Jim wrote:

Authentic or not, who cares! Its now part of my family tradition and recipe that i share with my now 14 year old daughter. We've been using it for a few years. THROW AWAY THE MEASURING CUPS.


This is wonderful - I can see my wife's grandmother saying exactly the same thing! To me, the story and the description of the Paulochik recipe is worth it all; it turns the whole making of the meal into a family happening, a significant event, a treasured memory that will be remembered by the grandchildren of the grandchildren. There's a little magic in there, and so much of the goal of this forum is to preserve things like this.

Thanks so much for making the effort to share this experience, and we look forward to future posts!

Ron
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