Sarma: With Karin Schulz & Werner Fricker III

Sarma is a dish traditionally made on special occasions. In November, Werner III came to celebrate Kirchweih at Carpathia in Detroit as it was the last big event at the current location. Other guests were coming from Milwaukee and Chicago to stay with us at my house and we thought that it was the perfect special occasion to share Sarma with our friends upon their arrival. I borrowed a Sarma recipe from “June Meyer’s Authentic Hungarian Heirloom Recipes,” but tweaked it a little to my liking.

To make the sarma you will need:

¾ lb. ground pork
¾ lb. ground beef
2 raw eggs
2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. Paprika (or more if you’re a German-Hungarian)
1 cup of raw rice
2 large bay leaves
2 chopped white onions
3 Tbsp. Shortening (oil or lard)
1 head of cabbage
2 jars of Sauerkraut rinsed in cold water
1 lb. Hungarian sausage sliced in one-inch chunks

Werner browned the chopped onions in the shortening in a pan which filled the kitchen with the best aroma.  While he was browning the onions, I mixed the ground meats, raw eggs, uncooked rice, paprika and salt in a large mixing bowl by hand.  Once the onions were browned, we mixed them in with the meat filling mixture.

Next, we cut the core of the cabbage out, brought a large pot of water to boil, and placed the entire head of cabbage inside. As the outer leaves wilted, I pulled them off with tongs, and placed them on a plate one by one until the whole cabbage was pulled apart. Werner took the cabbage leaves one by one and trimmed off the lower part of the thick center vein.

Starting with the larger leaves, I placed about 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture (a little more for the largest leaves) onto the thick end of a leaf, rolling it up and tucking in the sides while being rolled.  I made as many as I could. Werner chopped up the remaining of the smallest cabbage leaves to lay in the bottom of a big stock pot.  We used the same pot that we boiled the cabbage in after rinsing it out.  Werner arranged all the rolled cabbage leaves in the pot, while dispersing Hungarian sausage chunks intermittently around the rolls.

Then we covered the rolls two-thirds full of water and then poured the rinsed sauerkraut on top of the rolls and sausage, while placing the two bay leaves right on top.  After covering the pot to cook the meal slowly at about medium heat for one and a half hours, we enjoyed a glass of wine (or two!) while we waited for our friends to arrive. We made sure the rice was tender and the meat was cooked before serving.

Since it was Kirchweih, we served our Sarma with Rosemary roasted potatoes on the side. The recipe says it serves 6, but we had plenty of leftovers after the 6 of us enjoyed this fantastic meal.

by Karin & Werner

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