Romanian Sarmale (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)

Romanian Sarmale (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)


800 g pork

200 g smoked pork butt

6 slices of smoked gammon

100 g rice

1 big onion

2 tablespoons of dried thyme

1 big head of sauerkraut – with thin leaves

300 ml tomato juice

2 tablespoons of oil


freshly ground pepper


Serve with:



Romanian Sarmale (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)

  1. Start by preparing the sauerkraut leaves: if they are too sour or too salty, wash them in lukewarm water and let them dry. If the leaves are too small, cut the thick grooves on their back, without tearing the surface. If the leaves are too big, cut them into two.
  2. Mince the pork together with the smoked pork butt. Add the onion – chopped finely and sautéed – the rice, the freshly ground pepper, the salt and the thyme. Take one leaf and put about a tablespoon of the meat mix on it, arranging the meat across the leaf; allow at least 2 cm at each end of the leaf, and roll the meat into it.
  3. Press the thin ends of the leaf into the roll, making sure that your ‘sarmale’ won’t come apart while boiling. Take a few sauerkraut leaves, cut them into thin long stripes and spread them on the bottom of the pot, together with the smoked gammon. Continue by placing the ‘sarmale’ one next to the other, in the shape of sun rays. If you have more ‘sarmale’, you can also build them in successive layers, but make sure you choose a pot that is big enough to contain them all and not spill any juice while boiling. When the first layer of ‘sarmale’ is complete, pour half of the tomato juice on top of it.
  4. Once you have arranged all of your ‘sarmale’ in the pot, cover them with another layer of thin long stripes of sauerkraut leaves, then add the rest of the smoked gammon, the tomato juice, the peppercorn and the thyme.
  5. Pour boiling water on top and bring the ‘sarmale’ to a boil.
  6. Let them simmer for about one hour, adding some water now and then. Finally, put the dish in the hot oven for 30 minutes, to let the liquid boil away.
  7. Serve hot, with sour cream and polenta.



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Let it cool completely before served.


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The dish is eaten cold