You're supposed to make them with ground beef, but all I had was raw italian sausage, so I just took that out of the casing and used that instead, and it was fine.
Here's how I did it:
- Put a half cup of rice to boil with broth instead of water-- I used beef broth, 1 c to the 1/2 of rice. Cook it till it's done, then let it sit around till you're ready with it.
- Meanwhile, try to peel off the cabbage leaves. The really tough outer ones you can ditch, and then the really tight inner ones, just shred like you're making coleslaw; you'll need a little of it for the filling, and the rest goes in the pot. When they're all ready (a big head is supposed to give you 12; ours made 8), boil some water and drop them in for three minutes or so untill they're all pliable and the stems aren't rigid anymore.
- Meanwhile meanwhile, cook three or four strips of bacon on low heat so all the fat comes out. When they're crisp, pull them out and let them cool so you can crumble them, and cook a minced onion and four or six cloves of garlic in the grease. I also used some olive oil so it's really moist.
- By now, the leaves should be readyish. Take them out and let them cool.
- In a big bowl, mix the raw sausage, the rice, an egg, a half of another minced onion, the bacon crumbles, a handful of the shredded cabbage minced a little smaller, and some pepper. You probably won't need salt.
- Back at the onions, add a can of chopped tomatoes (this was supposed to be plain tomato sauce, but chopped is what we had and it turned out fine), and maybe two more cups of whichever broth you used, and a few tablespoons cider vinegar and / or red wine vinegar, and a palmfull of sugar. More pepper, then a tablespoon or so of paprika. Mix it all up and let it simmer on med-low while you do the rest.
- Dump the leaf-boiling water and fill the bottom of the warm pot with half the shredded cabbage.
- Fill the leaves by putting them so they curve up like little floppy bowls. Scoop about a palmfull of the mixed filling and shape it into a loaf shape-- something about the size of a nokia phone or something, 2" by 4" ish. Pushing around so it nuzzles hear the sharpest par tof the curve, and push that part down over the meat, then fold the sides in and roll the rest up. Keep them seam-side down so they don't unroll and keep going until all your leaves are full. They should be full, but not so full that they don't close-- you want to be able to pick them up.
- If there's any meat left, layer it over the shredded cabbage in the pot, and top with the rest of it. If there's no meat left, just throw the rest of the cabbage in. Even it out and pack it down just a little bit.
- Put in all the wrapped cabbage leaves. It's okay to pack them in so long as they're still little logs-- don't deform them. It's also okay to layer them.
- Spoon in all the tomato-onion sauce evenly over them. Wet it down with some more broth to make up what eveporated while it was simmering.
- Put a tight-fitting lid on it and let it cook on a high simmer for an hour to an hour and a half until the sausage is cooked through.
- Eat them and the nummy potbits under them as quickly as the heat will allow because they're so good that eveyone else eating them with you will eat them all if you dawdle.
** These can apparently be made the same way in a crock pot-- just instead of putting them in a stovetop pot for an hour, put them in a crockpot for 4 to 8.