"Dracula" starring Bela Lugosi was the first film I can ever remember seeing. I caught it on television on the "Horror Movie Matinee" when I was about six years old. That day I fell in love with Bela and with the movies. I went on to attend film school, create my cemetery tour and even co-author a few books. Bela Lugosi was really the man who started it all.
During October I went on my usual spree of watching classic horror films and I was eager to make a Bela Lugosi recipe. This time I found one in a more modern cookbook called "It Came From the Kitchen: Monstrously Delicious Celebrity Recipes from Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Assorted Aliens and Beyond!" by Geoff Isaac and Gordon Reid. If you love classic horror and sci-fi, you will love this book. It is filled with quotes from filmmakers, select filmographies and plenty of fun anecdotes. I found a used copy of this book on ebay.
I have to admit that I found the recipe in this book a bit daunting. Fortunately I found the perfect special guest to help simplify it.
Author David J. Skal is an expert on Dracula and on classic Hollywood horror films. His books include "Fright Favorites: 31 Movies to Haunt Your Halloween and Beyond", "Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker" and "V is for Vampire: The A-Z Guide to Everything Undead". You can find out more about his extensive body of work on his official website.
Mr. Skal also has Hungarian roots and was very familiar with the style of food that Bela enjoyed. He gave me the following instructions for scaling down this recipe. Please note that you can easily adjust the amounts depending on how many servings you want to make.
1 head of cabbage
1 pound lean ground beef (or alternative)
3/4 cup cooked rice
1/2 cup onion (finely chopped)
1/2 can of tomato soup
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon powdered garlic or chopped garlic cloves
Finely diced mushrooms are can be added.
Diced peppers can also be added as a compliment to the onion.
1 jar of sauerkraut
Boil a big head of cabbage whole. That makes it is easier to cut off the root base and boil the leaves loose. Make sure to notch the individual leaves to get rid of the thickest part, which makes rolling and folding easier.
Use cooking oil to prepare a pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Hungarian versions of the recipe use a layer of sauerkraut at the bottom of the baking dish, as well as a topping.
The basic filling consists of the meat, cooked rice, diced onion and paprika. The meat can be a pork/beef/sausage combo, ground turkey or a vegan substitution. Use half a can of tomato soup for binding, just enough to let you shape fillings like elongated meatballs.
Get an individual cabbage leaf and stuff with the filling. Unless you have really enormous cabbage leaves, you can make things easier by closing each roll with a wooden toothpick or two before baking.
This is really delicious and easy, but it’s important to drain the sauerkraut very well and press/squeeze out extra liquid before using. You can also top with tomato soup and caraway seeds can also be sprinkled on top before popping in the oven.
Cook in over at 350 degrees for one hour.
The Final Product
These were great and I think that Bela would approve!
I got to meet Bela Lugosi Jr. in 2000 at a horror convention in Hollywood. He was so kind to me and I cherish that memory.