Cabbage rolls reheat really well. If anything, they seem to get better a day or two later which is why I like to make them ahead of time.
One of my favourite versions were those made by a friend's Ukrainian grandmother. They were tiny, about the third of the size of a conventional cabbage roll. The filling was mainly rice which had been fried with onion, bacon, and grease, then slowly cooked in tomato juice.
Mine turn out a little different each time I make them, which isn't very frequently. I shy away from what I perceive as a lot of work, but the truth is once I get started it really isn't all that bad. I have made them with various types of cabbages, white or brown rice, beef, pork, sausage or some combination of meat. I've cooked them on the stove top, in the slow cooker or in the oven. They have been delicious every time. It's difficult to imagine them not turning out, they just do.
1 small head cabbage (about 1 3/4 lbs)
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1/3 cup uncooked long grain rice
1 small yellow, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1 large egg
1 tbsp Hungarian paprika
1/4 tsp caraway seed (optional)
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups beef broth
3/4 cup red wine (replace with broth if you prefer not using wine)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp flour
Remove the core from the cabbage and drop the entire head into a large pot of lightly salted simmering water. Cook for a few minutes, then start to pull off the outer leaves. My pot was a bit on the small side, so I turned the cabbage around with a wooden spoon from time to time.
Combine the beef, pork, rice, onion, garlic, parsley, egg, paprika, caraway seed, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix together until everything is well combined.
Cut the rib out of the leaf to about half way up. Bring the sides in a bit and position the meat over the cut. The amount of meat will depend on the size of the leaf; the proportion you see in the photo works well. Bring the bottom cut pieces of cabbage leaf up over the meat, and bring in the sides, then roll it up beginning at the bottom finishing with the loose end underneath the roll. Continue until the rest of the meat is used up.
Cut up the remaining cabbage into strips and place those into the bottom of a heavy pot or dutch oven with a tight fitting lid. Arrange the cabbage rolls over the cut leaves, then pour the beef broth and wine (if using) over the rolls.
Cover the pot and turn on the heat to low. Cook for about 3 hours or until the rice is tender.
Arrange the cabbage rolls and the cut cabbage strips onto a warmed platter.
Stir together the tomato paste and flour until you have a smooth paste. Stir a few spoons of hot broth into the mixture, then return all of it to the pot. Raise the heat and bring to a boil, stirring all the time. Cook for another minute or two, adjust the seasoning if necessary, then spoon the sauce over the cabbage rolls.