This dish originates from Turkish cuisine, but it has become so domesticated in Croatia that it has become an obligatory traditional winter and New Year’s meal. Croatian word sarma means a roll, derived from Turkish word sarmak – to roll, bend, wrap. And what is wrapped here is minced or chopped meat with added bacon, onion, garlic, rice and seasonings. The advantage of this meal is that it can be prepared several days in advance before serving, and it goes well with boiled or mashed potatoes or polenta.
1 kg (2.20 lb) sauerkraut (cabbage leaves)
1 kg (2.20 lb) cut cabbage leaves
100 g (3.5 oz) bacon
several bay leaves
1 kg (2.20 lb) minced meat (70% pork and 30% beef)
150 g (5.3 oz) rice
150 g (5.3 oz) bacon
3 tablespoons oil
100 g (3.5 oz) onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon of ground red paprika
6 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons rough flour
1 teaspoon paprika
Put minced meat, rice and bacon cut in small cubes into a bowl. Fry minced onion and garlic on a pan until they slightly change colour. After the onion cools a bit, add it to the meat mixture together with salt, pepper and paprika. Mix until all the ingredients are evenly distributed in the mixture.
Wash sauerkraut under a splash of water. Thin the thick part on all the leaves. Place a small amount of the meat mixture (50-70 g/1.8-2.5 oz) near the thick end and form it into a small roll. Fold the leaf over the meat, and then fold from the right and left side and roll till the end. Continue until you have used up all the meat and cabbage. Eventually you get about 25 – 27 rolls (depending on the size of the leaves).
Put some water in a wide and deep dish to cover the bottom. Distribute a third of the cut cabbage, then arrange part of the rolls, but not too tight, because you have to leave them some room for expansion while the meat and rice in the filling are being cooked. Distribute also a part of the sliced bacon and bay leaves. Then redistribute cut cabbage and then the rolls until you have placed them all in the pan. Finish with a layer of cut cabbage.
Pour enough water to cover the rolls. Simmer in a semi-covered pan for about 1.5 to 2 hours. Add some more water, as needed.
Near the end of cooking prepare the browned flour. Fry the flour on heated oil. Pour some water and transfer into the pan. Continue to cook for about 15 minutes.
Serve sarma with boiled or mashed potatoes.