Halupkies and Bubba

Halupkies and bubba was my late father’s favorite meal.  Halupkies, also known as stuffed cabbage or cabbage rolls, share a close common origin with dolmas.  Greek cooks wrap rice or a mixture of meat and rice in grape leaves and heat them in a lemon sauce.  Centuries ago, people, perhaps Jewish merchants, carried this recipe to central Europe where cabbages were more abundant than grape leaves in the cooler climate.  Cooks substituted the more readily available cabbage.

I make halupkies quite often during the cooler time of the year between October and April.  I buy 2 cabbages and peel about 8 outer leaves off each cabbage for a total of 16.  I steam them for 40 minutes in a steamer until they are soft and pliable.  When cool enough to handle I stuff each cabbage leaf with a mixture of ground chuck and cooked rice seasoned with salt and pepper.  I wrap the leaves around the mixture and place them in a glass casserole dish.  I cover the cabbage with a solution of tomato juice or tomato sauce and beef or chicken broth.  The liquid should come up to within 2/3rds of the tops of the cabbage.  I scatter chopped onion over this, then place extra cabbage over the top to keep them from burning.  I cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for an hour.  After removing the casserole from the oven I take off the top cabbage leaves and add the juice of a lemon and a few tablespoons of honey for a sweet and sour taste.  I serve the dish with boiled potatoes to sop up the excess juice, and bubba (recipe follows).

Halupkies.  For this batch I dumped leftover pot roast on the halupkies before I put them in the oven.  I also make many different variations of pot roast.  This was pot roast nicoise, marinated in wine and cooked with lots of vegetables and olives.

There are many variations of halupkies.  Sometimes, instead of adding honey and lemon juice I cook the halupkies with sourkraut.  Hungarian halupkies are actually made with pickled cabbage leaves.  If I have leftover chicken fried rice, I’ll use that instead of plain rice.  And if I have leftover goulash or pot roast and gravy, I’ll dump that on the halupkies before sticking them in the oven.  Cooked bacon is a common addition to the filling of meat and rice.  Another variation is to add peppers and pitted olives to the sauce.  This makes the halupkies more aromatic as opposed to the kind made with lemon juice and honey.

Bubba is simply a giant potato pancake.  Potatoes were first cultivated by South American Indians.  Europeans adopted the potato during the 18th century because the underground tubers survived when invading soldiers burned the peasant’s crops.  To make bubba pour 2/3rds a cup of sourdough starter into a bowl.  (If you don’t have sourdough starter, just mix flour and water into a sticky paste.)  Grate 3 medium-sized potatoes and squeeze the water out of them or the bubba will be too watery.  Add the grated potatoes to the sourdough starter along with a minced onion, 2 eggs, and 1 heaping teaspoon of salt.  Mix well and pour the batter into an iron skillet well greased with rendered beef fat, lard, or good vegetable oil.  Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes, then broil for 5 minutes to brown the top.  Remove from the oven and cut with a pizza cutter.  Bubba should be greasy and crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside.  In Poland where my dad was born, vendors used to hawk “hot bubba” from street corners.



One Response to “Halupkies and Bubba”

  1. ina puustinen-westerholm Says:

    Hot damn..a new recipe to work on..and tastyness..WILL..ensue! Thank you for the first recipe..which we have had via the Netherlands from the second wife of my maternal grandfather..of cabbage wrapped morsels. The bubba..will be a part of my cold rainy pres. day..activitys. Morning first mile hike..then back to feed the newfy..and..boils some taters. Thanks again.

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