Sarmale- Stuffed Cabbage Rolls


Sarmale (Romanian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)

1 head of cabbage
5 large onions, chopped
olive oil
21 oz.(approx) ground turkey (one Costco package)
4 regular sized sausage bratwurst links
2 c. uncooked Goya medium grain rice, rinsed
2 tsp  chicken bullion
1/2 tsp  black pepper
1 tsp cimbru (thyme) or Italian seasoning
14.5 oz. crushed tomatoes
4 (2″) peices smoked turkey necks
optional toppings: sour cream & shredded cheese

There are two ways that you can prepare your cabbage:IMG_0123_1

1) Remove the core from the cabbage (keep the core) and freeze the whole cabbage overnight. In the morning, remove the cabbage from the freezer and let it thaw on the counter. When it is thawed, the leaves will be limp & you can carefully remove them. (This is my mother in laws genius method)

OR 2) Remove the core of the cabbage (keeping the core). Put the head of cabbage in a pot.IMG_0030 Cover with water. Remove the cabbage and bring the water to a boil. Turn off the heat. Submerge the whole head of cabbage in the boiling water and cover. Let sit for 15-20 minutes.When the cabbage is done “cooking”, remove it from the water onto a cookie sheet with sides (to catch any remaining water). Then carefully remove leaves.


Carefully separate the leaves from the cabbage. With a knife, trim the thickest part of center rib on each leaf, so the cabbage leaf is more flat and doesn’t have a thick bump on the end. If the leaf is very large, you can divide it down the center stem so it becomes two separate pieces.

Meanwhile, sauté the onions in a nonstick pan with olive oil. Cook on low heat and cover with a lid. Check by stirring with a spoon and making sure it doesn’t burn. Cook until soft.

Sprinkle in paprika and add turkey, sausage, rice, chicken bullion, pepper, thyme and 1 tsp. salt.

Mix together with hands.

Divide the meat filling between the leaves and roll up jelly roll fashion… First fold the bottom up, tuck the sides in and then roll the bottom up towards the top. If filling ties to escape the sides, just poke it back in, tucking the cabbage leaves down with it.




Slice up pieces of the cabbage core and place at the bottom of the pan. (This will prevent the cabbage rolls from sticking to the bottom & burning)image

Place the rolls in, layering with the turkey neck peices. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning (optionalIMG_0098
Pour the crushed tomatoes over the rolls. Dissolve 1 1/2 tsp. of salt in 3 cups of water and pour water over rolls until just covered. ( add more if necessary- 1 c.water to 1/2 tsp.salt ratio)

Cover top of cabbages with a small heavy plate to keep them submerged in liquid while cooking. (Plate should not cover whole pan, but should just rest ontop of cabbages inside pan)IMG_6555

Rotate the pan (holding the handles and gently moving in a circular front back motion) until water comes to a boil.

When water comes to a boil, turn heat on low and simmer for 2 hours.

Do not remove plate. Let rolls sit in liquid  for 2 hours to absorb liquid before removing to eat.

Serve topped with sour cream and cheese.

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