Updated: Apr 16, 2022
My first recollection of Haluski or Haluska goes back decades. I'm probably about 5, messy pigtails uneven on my head, missing both front teeth to a nasty dentist who extracted them after a fall, Garanimal matching outfit from Hills Department Store, at the kitchen table, on my knees to be able to reach the flat surface, sifting through the yucky brown cabbage in order to find the buttery noodles. The only thing I liked about that God-awful meal, those buttery noodles. To have brown cabbage even touch my mouth.... oh my God! Gag me with a cabbage strand, totally! (Oh wait, the vernacular I won't understand until the mid 80s)
Perhaps it was my immature palate that made me think cabbage was awful. Or maybe it was my premature sophisticated palate that made me realize Haluski just wasn’t that good. I think it was the former.
And of course, it was a staple of our family meals. Even today, 2022, you can make a batch of Haluski for just under $20. It will feed a family of 8, easily. It is still a budget friendly meal.
Fast forward a few years and I'm 13 years old volunteering at the church bazar, SS. Cyril and Methodius Church on Chartiers Avenue in my hometown, McKees Rocks.
"SS. Cyril and Methodius was founded on March 8, 1910, as a Polish parish. The establishment of the parish was a result of a petition by the Polish Catholics of McKees Rocks for their own parish. At first, Mass was celebrated in the Lithuanian Hall. Land for a church was purchased in July of 1911. Work on a combined church and school building began in the spring of 1912. The cornerstone was laid on December 15, 1912, and the completed church was dedicated on November 23, 1913. The first floor of the building served as the church and the upper floors as the school.
The church was renovated in 1947, in 1951 and in the mid 1970's. By the end of the century, it became obvious that McKees Rocks could no longer support the number of parishes then in existence. In 1993 Ss. Cyril and Methodius was merged with six other parishes (of Ss. Cyril & Methodius, St. Francis de Sales, St. Maria Goretti, St. Mark, St. Mary Help of Christians and Mother of Sorrows in McKees Rocks and St. Vincent de Paul in Esplen) to form the new St. John of God. As part of this merger, Ss. Cyril and Methodius Church was closed."
Source: Diocese Website
The bazar was held on the fenced-in gated property below the church building. The food booth was in the center of the parking lot slash playground slash basketball court slash bazar grounds. What seemed like miles, but surely was only maybe ten or fifteen feet, rows of black and white electric roaster lined the booth. Close your eyes, I know you can picture it.
Church ladies ladled everything from pierogies to stuffed cabbage (Halupki, Gołąbki or Golumpki depending on your nationality) and of course....Haluski.
Same reaction... sure I‘ll eat Haluski, but I'll just push the cabbage aside and eat the noodles. The sweet lady in her full coverage granny apron gave me something I had never seen before. From one of the newest edition to the electric roasters, Haluski with green cabbage. What in the world…
Only recently I thought about my Haluski experience, and I realized the electric roasters, along with my mother had over cooked the cabbage, causing it to turn brown. The strands of brown cabbage, if cooked too long or if the leftovers reheated too many times, would emanate a rotten egg smell. That was what I hated about that brown Haluski, that awful rotten egg smell known as sulfur.
When cabbage is cooked, the sulfur that it contains actually multiplies! The longer it is cooked, the more it multiplies. It is this sulfur smell that gives off the strong cooked cabbage odor. That, in my opinion, putrid smell I hated as a kid.
I understand that my distain of overcooked cabbage may seem a little harsh, or that my reaction to it as a kid a little dramatic, but I love cabbage now. And that's because I learned to cook it properly. That's to say I cook it quickly... no more slow roasting cabbage for hours and eating if for days afterward.
That’s not to say the slow cooking for several hours is wrong, it’s just that the sulfur smell will be eliminated from any cabbage dishes by limiting the cooking time.
I'm here to help you with this part. I have two ways to prepare Haluski. One is my own interpretation to Haluski (traditional sauteed) One is my friend Karen Toal's.
Her Facebook Famous Haluski has been served to hundreds if not thousands during her 10 year tenure as a basketball Mom at Moon Area High School, for her daughters Morgan and Bri. She, of Italian decent would make the Haluski. I, of Polish decent, was responsible for the meatballs. It was a juxtaposition that worked perfectly. She adds a little extra special something in her Haluski that makes it a HUGE hit. Sometimes, it's others interpreting recipes and putting their own spin on the recipe that make it extra special--mini Mrs. T pierogies!!! Karen definitely did that. And everyone LOVES her Haluski. I believe you will too... as well as my sauteed interpretation. But if you must know, I LOVE her Haluski. I'm not sure why I don't make it her way always. Must be that Polish heritage that won’t let me let go of the sautéed version.
Cooking Class with Carol
Things to Consider
Not much to know about Haluski.
It's simple. It's quick. It's cheap.
I do try different types of cabbage. Sometimes Savoy cabbage just looks so beautiful. So I get it. It's a little more expensive, but in terms of overall costs, it's still rather inexpensive.
I add protein to my Haluski in the form of cottage cheese. Another inexpensive and vegetarian (but not vegan) substitute to meat. Others add Kielbasa--(not appropriate for the Lenten Friday meat free meal)
2 medium heads green cabbage
1 large onion
2 sticks butter
2 cloves garlic
1 pound egg noodles, your choice of width
garlic salt and pepper to taste
(For Karen Toal's )
add Mrs. T's Mini Pierogies
What To Do
Sautéed Haluski(Cabbage and Noodles)
1. Prep the cabbage by shredding into 1/4" to 1/2" ribbons
2. slice onion. Mince or smash garlic.
3. in a large pan over medium heat melt butter and add onions sauteing until golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Add garlic at 5 minutes into cooking process so garlic does not burn.
4. add cabbage, in batches, 1/3 to 1/2 at a time to onions. add 1 tsp of salt (or garlic salt) to cabbage. This will help to wilt the cabbage or pull the water from the cabbage. Sauté the cabbage for 2 minutes, or until volume as reduced a little. Add remaining cabbage, salt to wilt, continue to cook for another 2-4 minutes.
5. Fill a heavy bottom stock pot 3/4 way with water. Place on stove and bring to boil. Add noodles and cook according to the directions on the package. Once cooked to al dente, drain water and add noodles to cabbage mixture. Mix well.
6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve and enjoy with or without your favorite protein.
Cooking Version 2.0 (blanched/boiled)
Karen Toal's Haluski
1. In a large stock pot fill 3/4 way with cold water and bring to boil.
2. While waiting on the water to boil, slice and sauté onions. Shred cabbage.
3. When water comes to a boil, add garlic salt, about 2 tsps. to water. Add cabbage and boil for 7-10 minutes.
4. Remove from water with slotted spoon.
5. Add blanched cabbage to sauteed onions.
6. Keep water boiling. Do not drain water. Add more as needed to bring back to original levels. Return to boil. Cook noodles according to package instructions.
7. Remove noodles from water with slotted spoon and add to cabbage/onion mixture
8. Keep water boiling. Do not drain water. Add more as needed to bring back to original levels. Return to boil.
Add frozen pierogies and cook according to package.
9. Remove pierogies from water with slotted spoon and add to cabbage/onion/noodle mixture.
10. Mix gently so not to break the pierogies. Add garlic salt as desired to taste.
Notice how green the cabbage is? and no smell? Yep!! that's right--and it's so good. Serve immediately. ENJOY!!!