Cabbage Rolls (Sarma)

#1 Croatian comfort dish! We cannot imagine starting the New Year without sarma. It originated in Turkey, and Croatians adopted it during Ottoman Empire in the 16th century.

I believe this is the most popular dish in Croatia. It is so popular that one of the biggest Croatian rock bands Hladno Pivo (engl: Cold Beer!) dedicated a whole song to it, a song called Sarma 😀

Cabbage Rolls with Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 large sour cabbage head
  • 20 g of smoked bacon or speck, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 500 g ground beef
  • 500 g ground pork
  • 170 g (2/3 cup) white rice
  • 5-6 bay leaves
  • smoked ribs or meat (optional and recommended)

Preparation

  1. Remove bruised leaves from cabbage and cut out center core. Separate cabbage leaves and rinse them briefly to reduce sourness.
  2. Saute bacon and onion until golden. Add half the tomato paste. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl beat the eggs with salt, pepper and paprika. Add ground beef and pork along with bacon mixture and rice. Mix thoroughly until combined.
  4. Place heaped tablespoon of stuffing at core end of each cabbage leaf and roll carefully, tucking in ends.
  5. Place rolls in layers in Dutch oven or large pot.
    First layer at the bottom: chopped unused leaves.
    Second layer: the rolls.
    Final layer: smoked ribs or meat. Repeat the process until you run out of the ingredients (usually twice).
  6. On top add remaining tomato paste with bay leaves and add enough water to cover the rolls.
  7. Cover and simmer on the stove for 2 to 2-1/2 hours on low to medium heat.

It is usually served with mashed potatoes. You know the drill 😀 Cook potatoes, mash with some butter and sour cream. Season with salt!

Tip: Try them with Croatian potatoes: Restani Krumpir! 😉

What is your ultimate comfort dish?

Ground Meat Fritters – Faširanci

I am presenting you the all time favorite meal of all the kids throughout Croatia!

These fritters smell of childhood memories. I loved mine with spinach and mashed potatoes, but they are often served with vegetables stews. My family had them with kale stew most often for some reason.

Croatian moms like this fritters because they can camouflage a bit of veggies inside, but I like them as they are.

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Ground Meat Fritters - Faširanci

Tools you need

Ingredients

  • 450 g of ground beef
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 egg
  • 2 slices of dry bread
  • flour or bread crumbs
  • sunflower oil
  • spices of your choice
  • salt, pepper, parsley
  • Vegeta seasoning to taste (optional, but recommended)

Croatians often use half pork and half beef meat. You can also make them with chicken or turkey meat, but they are going to be much drier.

Preparation

Mix minced meat with beaten egg. Add all other ingredients and knead well with hands. Cover the mixture with cling wrap and leave in the refrigerator for at least half an hour.

For these fritters we use a day or two aged bread that you soak in milk before adding to the mixture. It is very important that you squeeze the bread well to drain all the milk before adding to the mixture.

You can play and add spices that you like (chili powder, sweet paprika), but salt and pepper are required.

Unlike parsley and garlic, which are crushed or very finely chopped, onions previously need to be fried on oil until transparent.

It is important to knead the mixture well with your hands to get all the ingredients combined and to get fritters more compact.

Let the mixture sit for at least half an hour before frying, so that all the ingredients are well imbued.

In a deeper pan warm up the oil.

From the mixture, form balls and flatten them with hands. Size them based on your preferences. I like them thin and palm size.

Bed them in flour and fry in hot oil over low heat on each side until golden brown.

Serve with mashed potatoes, vegetables, various stews or salads. Goes great with Croatian Cabbage and Beans Stew!

Enjoy 🙂