If you plan to make this recipe, make sure your day has been cleared of other activities, unless you have helping hands for the rolling part of this project. These delightfully zesty little parcels of meat and rice are one of my favorite Mediterranean food menu item, something I can never not order in a Greek or Mediterranean food restaurant. Although they take a while to prepare and cook, they can be kept in the refrigerator and enjoyed for days afterward; and are so worth the effort! I hope you give these a try and let me know your thoughts. Also, I'd like to know: if you make dolmas, what do you do different? Let me know. Enjoy!
Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmas)
Makes 60-70 rolls
Ingredients for filling:
4 cups rice, soaked in water at least 1 hour
2 lbs ground meat (beef, lamb, or a mix of both)
1 white or yellow onion, finely diced
1 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 teaspoons salt
Pinch of cinnamon
Ingredients for rolls:
2 8-oz jars grape leaves (drained and leaves rinsed)
2 tablespoon lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
Salt, to taste
1. Combine all filling ingredients in a large bowl. Blot dry a grape leaf with a paper towel and lay onto a clean working surface, the rough (veined) side up, stem facing toward you.
2. Fill leaf with about 1 teaspoon of filling, spreading it out in a tube horizontally across the leaf. Do not over-stuff the leaf, as rice will expand when cooking and can tear the dolmas. Fold the bottom of the leaf over the stuffing, tucking in the stuff, then fold the two sides over toward the center. Finally, roll tightly to make about a 3 inch tube. (You may need to adjust filling according to size of leaf).
3. Continue this with remaining leaves and pack tightly into a large heavy-bottom pot. When you've completed one layer, cover with 3 tablespoons of oil; do this to all layers you complete. When all rolls are finished, sprinkle with salt to taste (I did about 1/2 tablespoon). Sprinkle with lemon juice and cover with water just until covering all the rolls. Place a heavy plate on top of the rolls until they are submerged under the water to prevent them from surfacing while cooking.
4. Bring contents to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for 1 hour until the rice is fully cooked through. You may need to add water as necessary to keep all rolls submerged.
5. When done, remove from heat and drain excess water. Gently remove rolls from pot into a storage container. They will firm as they cool; may be served warm or cool and add salt as desired.
NOTE: I like to mix a little sour cream or plain yogurt with chopped dill, a dash of salt and pepper and garlic; this makes a delicious dip for the dolmas.
Recipe adapted from Traditional Cooking School