There are different versions of this recipe from all over the Balkans. You may be able to get sour cabbage from an Eastern European market; if not, you can boil the cabbage heads until soft enough to work with (the dish will taste slightly different - maybe add some vinegar to the broth). It is a very filling dish! Don't worry about leftovers, they taste just fine reheated (use the stove, not the microwave)!
- Separate the cabbage leaves, being careful not to tear them.
- Mix meat, rice, onion, salt, pepper, and paprika.
- Place about a tablespoon or more (use your own judgment based on the size of the leaves) of the meat mixture into each cabbage leaf, near its base.
- Begin rolling the leaf from the base into a thick cylinder, tucking in the sides after the first "roll."
- Layer the cylinders tightly into a medium-sized or large pot.
- Cover the sarma with beef stock or water (I find that if you use water, it makes its own broth anyways with the meat as it cooks).
- Cover the pot, bring to a boil, and simmer for at least three hours.
- Serve with butter and sour cream, with or without some of the cooking liquids according to your preference.
- *Boiled potatoes are often eaten with sarma, and they go quite well together.