Halupkis: Stuffed Cabbage

Serves 8

2 large cabbage heads, coarse outer leaves removed
1 1/2 cups rice, uncooked
1/4 pound bacon strips, diced
2 medium onions, diced
2 pounds ground lean beef
2 pounds ground pork
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground
2 teaspoons salt
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1 (14.5 ounce) can tomato soup
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 can chopped tomatoes with chiles, optional

Remove the center core of each head of cabbage. Place in large pot of boiling water. Boil until soft, removing each leaf as it softens. Let leaves cool, then trim the thick rib on each leaf. Reserve 14.5 ounces of the cabbage cooking water.
Boil rice in a separate saucepot until half cooked. Drain and set aside.
In a large skillet, saute bacon and discard excess fat. Add the onion to the skillet and cook until lightly browned. Chop the bacon into small pieces and add back to the pan.
In a bowl combine beef, pork, partially cooked rice, pepper, salt, eggs, cooked onion-bacon mixture, paprika, and celery salt. Measure the mixture with medium sized ice-cream scoop to make each halupki the same size.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
On each separate cabbage leaf, place 1 scoop of the meat mixture at the bottom of the leaf and roll, tightly tucking the sides to cover the mixture. Line the bottom of a roasting pan (not aluminum) with cabbage leaves that are too dark or to small to use for rolling. Place halupkis in roasting pan, making 2 layers.
Combine tomato soup, broth, chopped tomatoes, and reserved cooking liquid and pour over halupki. Cover and bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Add more liquid, if needed.
They taste best the next day.