Sunday Supper: Bratwurst-Stuffed Cabbage Rolls With Smoky Tomato Sauce

Bratwurst and rice-stuffed cabbage rolls bake in a smoky bacon-beer tomato sauce. Jennifer Olvera

It's not yet fall, but summer has one foot out the door. And while I am a summer girl through and through, I take heart in knowing hearty, cool-weather food is one of the joys of autumn.

Given that we're entering a transition period, I've chosen to turn a summertime staple—bratwurst—on its head, removing it from its casings and then browning the sausage meat and tossing it with rice for cabbage rolls.

After blanching the cabbage leaves, I remove the tough stems and veins, then roll them up around the filling. Once filled, I bake them in a bacon-infused tomato sauce that's spiked with beer, paprika, and ground caraway. Covering the dish in foil while it bakes keeps the rolls moist and helps the flavors meld.

The result is an Oktoberfest precursor that'd be pretty tasty with bread dumplings or spaetzle alongside.

The dish can be assembled a day in advance and then popped in the oven to bake. Take it out of the refrigerator about 45 minutes before you transfer it to the oven. It reheats and freezes beautifully, so don't worry if you have leftovers.