Holishkes (stuffed cabbage)

holishkes 037

Holishkes or sweet and sour stuffed cabbage is a traditional Sukkot meal. I’ve seen this noted in a number of recipes but other than it being stuffed I can’t really determine how this dish became associated with a harvest holiday where we go out into tents. Sukkot ended on Friday and my illness prevented me from cooking until last night, but I have heard the cabbage rolls are a symbol for the Torah rolls and are also traditional for Simcah Torah, so I’m gonna go with that. I personally have never made or had this dish before, mainly because  it is incredibly involved. It took me a couple of hours to prepare everything for cooking but I also christened my new meat grinder and ground a lovely lamb shoulder I picked up for the bargain price of $2.99/lb at Whole Foods, along with a beef chuck steak. All of the effort proved to be worth it, because they are delicious!

Recipe after the jump


adapted from the Second Avenue Deli cookbook


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground lamb
  • 3/4 cup uncooked white rice
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped or crushed fresh garlic
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


  • 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1  sliced onion
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vinegar (I used red wine vinegar because I had a bunch of it)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 large  green cabbage

1. In a large bowl, combine all the stuffing ingredients. Stir them with a fork, then mix thoroughly with your hands. Cover and refrigerate.

2. In another bowl, thoroughly mix all sauce ingredients. Cover and refrigerate.

3. Fill a very large stockpot three-quarters full with water and bring to a rapid boil. While bringing the water to a boil, use a thin, sharp knife to make deep cuts around the core of the  cabbage (cut into the cabbage in a circle about 1/4 inch out from the core). Lift out the core, making a hole about 2 inches wide and 2 1/2 inches deep. A good knife is your best friend for this.

4. Set out a baking tray near the stove. Stick a long cooking fork into the core hole of the large cabbage, and plunge it  into the pot of rapidly boiling water. The outer leaves will begin to fall off. Leave them in the boiling water for a few minutes until they’re limp and flexible enough for stuffing; then take them, and place them on the baking tray. keep repeating this until you have all of the leaves removed. With a small knife, trim out the tough outer spines and discard them.

5. Find your largest leaves. One at a time, line each large leaf with another  smaller leaf. (The idea is to strengthen your cabbage wrapping so that the stuffing stays securely inside during cooking. Be sure to align the spines of inner and outer leaves.) Stuff with 3/4 cup of the meat-rice mixture, roll very tightly along the spine, and close both sides by tucking them in with your fingers. The spine should be vertical in the center of tour roll.

6. Chop any remaining cabbage leaves and stir into the sauce. Pour enough  sauce to cover the bottom of a large, wide-bottomed pot. Arrange the cabbage rolls carefully on top of the sauce, and pour the remainder of the sauce over them to cover. Cover pot and simmer for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Serve with boiled potatoes or vegetable.

Recipes varied as to whether the cooking was done on the stove top or the oven. I think next time I will stick with the sauce and stuffing recipe but bake them, since my stove now has a collection of burned on bits of sauce I am still attempting to scrub off.


Filed under Fruit and Vegtables, Meat, Sukkot

3 responses to “Holishkes (stuffed cabbage)

  1. Pingback: New Fruit for Sukkot « Jewish Food in the Hands of Heathens

  2. Pingback: Teiglach « Jewish Food in the Hands of Heathens

  3. Adam

    saw a good recipe using ground turkey, brown rice and shrooms. always loved them, but never heard them called holishkes (golumpkes or holubtsi) nor had them on simchas torah til this year while hanging with hasidim… great after a night drinking

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s