100 Favorite Dishes: No. 33, Kramarczuk's cabbage rolls

Kramarczuk's famous cabbage rolls fill the tummy and warm the soul
There are only a small handful of restaurants that have helped to define Twin Cities culture in the way that Kramarczuk's has. Serving up eastern European delicacies to hungry Nordeasters for over 60 years, Kramarczuk's offers diners more than specialty cuisine; it offers them an overall sense of place. Few dishes do so more than the rich stuffed cabbage rolls.

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Kramarczuk's have been making Twin Cities history since 1954.
Sausages might be what Kramarczuck's is best known for, but their cabbage rolls aren't exactly off the grid. Fans know that eating this comfort food is like immediately having your spirits lifted away to a rustic eastern European village you hope to never leave again. Yes, they are that good.

The rolls are filled with a combination of rice, beef and pork, a dense, rich loaf of love that makes for a substantial meal without becoming a total gut-buster. The filling is heaped inside cabbage leaves which are then rolled and braised. The cabbage becomes tender, but not so much so that the entire thing falls apart, and imparts a slightly sweet, floral flavor to the meat. The whole thing is then doused in a heaping ladle full of rich, creamy tomato sauce. 

You get your choice of sauerkraut or red cabbage on the side, and for us, the tangy, semi-sweet red cabbage is absolutely the way to go. It's not that you're going to go wrong with a spoonful of kraut, but the acidic red cabbage comes with hunks of sweet apple, which really elevates the entire plate of food.

This dish is a true Twin Cities staple that dates back just as far as the Jucy Lucy, yet -- dare we say it? -- tastes a little bit more like home.

No. 40: Crema's affogato
No. 39: Broders' quadrucci con pollo

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