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Venison Cabbage Rolls (Halupki)

Halupki, also known simply as “cabbage rolls,” are a meat and rice filled cabbage dish covered in a tomato sauce.  My recipe features tender cabbage with a flavorful mix of venison and Italian sausage. The sauce is to die for — especially when served with a side of mashed potatoes! Many generations of my family have made and adapted this recipe. I recently did the same, and changed the traditional beef and pork cabbage rolls to feature wild game.  The recipe may seem difficult at first, but overall the recipe is not hard to make; there are just a few tedious steps. The result is worth all the hard work!


2 cabbage heads, course outer leaves removed

1 cup white rice, cooked

1/2 pound bacon

2 medium onions, diced

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 1/2 pounds ground venison

1 pound mild Italian pork sausage

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1 tablespoon paprika

2 cups tomato sauce

1 and 1/2 cup chicken broth

1 cup ketchup


Recipe Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and bring a large stockpot filled with water to a boil.
  2. Steam the cabbage leaves: Trim around the core of the cabbage, peel off any loose leaves and place into boiling water. As each leaf begins to loosen, remove with tongs to a towel to drain. Continue until all useable leaves are removed. Reserve the tighter center leaves for later. Allow the cabbage to cool.
  3. Remove the thick center from the bottom of each of the cabbage leaves.
  4. Saute the bacon and onion: In a large skillet, sauté diced bacon and onion until lightly brown. Discard excess fat.
  5. Mix the meat filling: In a large bowl, combine meat, salt, pepper, parsley and cooked bacon and onion mixture. Chop some of the remaining cabbage, about 1/2 cups worth, and mix it in.
  6. Create the Sauce: Mix together the tomato sauce, chicken broth and ketchup in a medium bowl. Pour half of the mixture to in the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan and set aside.
  7. Place each cabbage leaf on your work surface and add the filling. Do not overfill or they will explode as the liquid begins to boil. Assemble like an egg roll and place into sauce-lined pan. Continue until all viable leaves are used and/or you run out of filling.
  8. Top with the remaining sauce. Cover with foil and bake for one hour. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes.
  9. Serve with mashed potatoes, rolls or bread and enjoy!


Hey! I’m Jenn Danella. I am a sportswoman, hunter, and wild-game chef with a strong passion for the great outdoors. To me, there’s no greater reward than to be able to provide for myself and my family through hunting and fishing. Check out my cookbooks and more at


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