Back in the days when my cousins were getting married most of the wedding food was catered by family members.  What food establishment could cook better than any of my Great Aunts and Grandmother?  -“ NO ONE !”  then with some “Czech phrase” added  that would follow, which,  if I would repeat would have gotten me in trouble.

One of my favorite dishes served was the pigs in a blanket — stuffed cabbage rolls what my father’s family called Hulobky.  Roaster pans full of them to feed the family and friends of the bridal party.  Lots of other food too, but these were a staple at these family nuptials along with many other fine dishes these were eaten in vast amounts to only have the calories danced off by 3 consecutive hours of Polka dancing.  Next was the traditional circling of the bride and groom by all the guests as we all sang “I want a girl just like the girl that married dear old Dad”  ( All the women were wiping away tears with their embroidered cloth handkerchiefs that were kept in their bra straps just for the occasion),  to be followed by an additional 2 hours of dancing after the bride and groom left for their honeymoon in Niagara Falls!


Every time I make cabbage rolls, wonderful memories arise of  aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins, immediate family  and family friends  that made these occasions so special.  The uncle who could wiggle his ears without touching them, the aunts who could polka dance while holding their scotch and soda in their free hand without spilling a drop,  and the family  members who would join the band singing a few of their favorite songs.  There was no “Money dance”  to collect money to dance with the bride and groom; back then there were “Dowries”  which, if I remember correctly, usually included a few farm animals.  Oh, for the simpler days when you started off your marriage with whole cow and pig in your chest freezer (also a gift, usually from your grandparents!)

Grandma Vancura’s Hulobky (Cabbage Rolls)

The original recipe was in my Grandmothers handwriting on brown paper and called for a bushel of cabbage, 20 pounds of ground beef and 10 of ground pork, and 5 gallons of tomato juice) I cut this down for a family sized meal but, my, those were some events!!


  • Whole head of cabbage
  • 1 tablespoon butter or oil
  • 1 medium finely chopped onion
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 pound lean ground pork
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 (10-ounce) can tomato juice


Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Remove core from cabbage.

Place whole head in a large pot filled with boiling, salted water. Cover and cook for 3 minutes, or until softened enough to pull off individual leaves. You will need about 18 leaves.

When leaves are cool enough to handle, use a knife to cut away the thick center stem from each leaf, without cutting all the way through.

Chop the remaining cabbage and place it in the bottom of a greased casserole dish or Dutch oven.

Saute the chopped onion in butter in a small skillet until tender, and let it cool.

Transfer onion to a large bowl and mix with the ground beef and ground pork, egg, salt, pepper, and paprika, combining thoroughly. Don’t over mix or the meat will become tough.

Place about 1/2 cup of the filling on each cabbage leaf.

Roll away from you to encase the meat.

Flip the right side of the leaf to the middle, then flip the left side.

Place the cabbage rolls on top of the chopped cabbage in layers in a casserole dish or Dutch oven.

Pour tomato juice over rolls, bring to a boil, cover and place in oven.

Bake for about 2 hours or until cabbage is tender and meat is cooked.

Serve with pan juices and a drizzle of sour cream.