Last Sunday on Nash Holos Judy shared an awesome recipe for buckwheat holubtsi (cabbage rolls). It's an encore presentation (originally aired in May) but I thought it was worth repeating.
The buckwheat filling in her recipe comes courtesy of one of her customers. Not long ago, several members of the Eleniak family from Edmonton (yes, … those Eleniaks, descendants of the first Ukrainian settlers to Canada) were visiting the west coast. Four of them dropped into Judy's restaurant for a meal and had a lovely visit. Before they left, they presented her with an autographed copy of their family cookbook.
As she said in the radio segment, at her restaurant they’re running a very close second to the ever-popular rice and bacon cabbage rolls. It's surprising, or maybe not ... there aren't many places to get them.
Judy's recipe for buckwheat holubtsi is an adaptation of the one in the Eleniak family cookbook. I have tried and tested the filling and can honestly say that it is totally yummy. I make "lazy holubtsi" (just layer the filling with sautéd cabbage mixed with a bit of sauerkraut, if desired) but Judy specializes in the traditional cabbage rolls. Either way, they're delicious!
Here's the recipe:
Bring to a boil 3 1/2 cups of water, 1 1/2 cups roasted buckwheat, and about 3 tablespoons of chicken base. (If the brand of base you use tends to be quite salty, cut back on the amount). Simmer until all the water is absorbed. Chop 1/2 lb of bacon and a large onion. Fry the bacon first, and when it’s almost done add the chopped onion and fry for 10 more minutes.
Mix bacon and onion into buckwheat, add black pepper to taste, and cool.
Core a head of cabbage and immerse in a pot of boiling water. When the leaves loosen, take the cabbage out of the water. Peel off the leaves gently, and trim the veins. If leaves are too large, cut them into 2 or 3 smaller pieces.
Place 1 tablespoon of buckwheat mixture onto each leaf, then roll and tuck ends in. Place cabbage rolls into a buttered casserole dish or small roaster.
Pour a cup of tomato juice (or one can of tomato soup mixed with a can of water) over the cabbage rolls. Bake at 350ºF until cabbage is tender, about an hour and a half.
To be really decadent, chop or slice another large onion and fry in about some butter. When cabbage rolls are done, spoon onions and butter over them.