Remove the stalk from the bottom of the cabbage head.
Place the cabbage in a large pot filled with 12 cups of water. Cover and place over high heat.
Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium. Continue to cook until the cabbage leaves become bright green and pliable, about 3-5 minutes. The leaves should not be limp, they should hold their shape.
Remove cabbage from water and place on a cutting board until it’s cool enough to handle.
In a large bowl combine ground beef, pork, onion, garlic, grated lemon peel, egg, and rice. Place in refrigerator until ready to use.
MAKE TOMATO SAUCE:
In a medium pot over medium heat add oil. Once simmering, stir in grated onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Then, add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Pour in crushed tomatoes, water, salt, and pepper and increase heat to high. Once bubbling, reduce heat to low and simmer tomatoes for 15 minutes.
PREPARE CABBAGE LEAVES:
Once the cabbage has cooled, remove the leaves from the cabbage head.
Using a paring knife, cut the thick stem or membrane from the back of each leaf. Be careful not to cut through the leaf.
PREP OVEN AND BAKING DISHES:
Move oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
You will need a 9x13-inch baking dish and a smaller, 2-quart baking dish for this recipe. Spread ¾ cup of sauce in the bottom of a 9x13-inch dish and ½ cup sauce in the bottom of the 2-quart baking dish.
STUFF & ROLL CABBAGE LEAVES:
Place 2 tablespoons of filling on the bottom half of a cabbage leaf.
Fold up the bottom part of the cabbage leaf.
Then, fold in the sides.
Next, roll forward until the cabbage leaf completely covers the filling. Repeat with remaining cabbage leaves and filling.
Place the stuffed cabbage leaves into prepared pans in neat rows. Pour the remaining sauce evenly over the cabbage rolls.
Bake for 50-60 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking.
Place pans on a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped fresh dill (optional) and serve.
Note from a reader: If you throw the head of cabbage in the freezer for a few days until it's frozen solid and then thaw it the leaves are pliable and you can stuff them easily without boiling the leaves.