Choose a large cabbage with thin leaves or opt for 2 small ones
You can use homemade or store-bought. If it's thick, dilute it with a bit of water to make it more liquid
Step by step
Thoroughly rinse the sour cabbage and carefully detach the leaves. If the cabbage is excessively salty and sour, immerse it in a large volume of cold water for about 2-3 hours, refreshing the water periodically.
Prepare the ground meat (or use pre-minced meat), rinse the rice and combine it with the meat.
Peel and chop the onions and sauté them in oil.
Add the sautéed onions, pepper, salt, and 2-3 tablespoons of tomato puree to the meat and rice mixture.
Stir this mixture well, then pour in 150 ml of water and mix vigorously. This process will allow the rice to absorb the water and blend well with the meat.
Remove the stalks from the cabbage leaves and trim each leaf uniformly to create ideal wrappers for the filling.
Prepare all the cabbage leaves for the stuffing.
Chop the cabbage stalks and any remaining cabbage finely after you have prepped the leaves.
Cut the bacon into medium-sized pieces.
In a 4-5 l pot, layer the chopped cabbage, some bacon, and 2-3 tablespoons of tomato puree.
Shape the cabbage rolls or "sarmale", and arrange them over the layer of chopped cabbage and bacon in the pot.
Repeat the process, creating additional layers of cabbage rolls, chopped cabbage, bacon, and tomato puree until the pot is filled.
Pour boiling water into the pot until the last layer (which should consist of chopped cabbage, bacon, and tomato puree) is covered.
Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 hours on low heat, followed by an additional hour on very low heat for thorough cooking.
Serve your Romanian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls or "Sarmale" hot, garnished with sour cream, and accompanied by the cooked cabbage and bacon.
Enjoy your meal!