Strangely but truly, cabbages were originally grown for their stems, until the Romans cultivated cabbage with larger, more developed heads in Caesar’s time. The Romans also swore that eating cabbage during a banquet would keep you from getting drunk. I tried it. It doesn’t work.
Discard tough outer leaves from cabbage and cut out the tough central core. Cook in a large pot of simmering, salted water for 5 to 10 minutes, then remove cabbage, reserving water, and rinse well under cold water. Peel off the leaves and pat dry. Cut out any thick stem and trim into 8 rough circles of around
Soak bread in milk, then squeeze dry. Mix meat with rice, grated onion, garlic, parsley, bread, paprika, salt and pepper with your hands. Lay out one circle of cabbage, and top with a handful of meat mixture. Roll up as if for a spring roll, tucking in the edges as you go (the first one is messy, then you’ll get the hang of it). Arrange rolls, tightly packed, in a flat-bottomed pan, and enough of the reserved cabbage cooking water to just cover. Simmer gently for 1 hour, covered.
Heat tomato sauce and warm six shallow soup or pasta plates. Remove cabbage rolls from liquid, drain, and place one roll on each serving plate. Spoon hot tomato sauce around each one and serve with sour cream if you are feeling very European.
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