Stuffed Grape Leaves

While looking for recipes last week and wanting to cook with a meat besides chicken, I found a recipe in Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes In The World for these stuffed grape leaves.  I had only eaten them once before and don’t remember having any strong feelings about them, but it was quite fun to make these.

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They’re stuffed with rice, onions, lamb, and a variety of tasty spices.  It was also a bright and sunny day outside, which allowed me to take pictures by the window with lots of natural light.

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I was worried about the leaves unraveling as I stuffed/rolled them but they held together very well.

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First you roll up the front side…

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then you fold in the sides…

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and lastly you roll up the remaining leaf tightly.

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Instead of just steaming them over boiling water, you actually cook them in the liquid (chicken broth, lemon juice, olive oil), which adds a lot more flavor.

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Generally these are served cold and will keep 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

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Stuffed Grape Leaves

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup rice
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Directions

In a small saucepan cook the onion in a tablespoon of oil.  After 5 minutes add rice, 1/2 cup water, and cook until the liquid is absorbed.  This should take about 15 minutes.

In a large bowl combine the rice & onion with the lamb, spices, and lemon zest.

If you purchased grape leaves in a jar take out about 45 of them and unroll them.  Place them in a strainer and run cool water over them to rinse off the brine they were kept in.

To stuff, put a leaf on the cutting board with the smooth (and shiny) side down.  You can see in the above pictures that the veins of the leaf will be showing.  Removed the stem and put about a tablespoon of filling in the middle.  Roll the bottom of the leaf over the filling and tuck under.  Fold the sides towards the middle, and then roll up the remainder from the stem toward the top of the leaf.

Line the bottom of a wide and deep pan with unused grape leaves so that none of the bottom is visible.  Place the leaves in the pan (seam side down) and back them close together.  You may not be able to fit them all in one layer, which is fine.  Add the stock, olive oil, and lemon juice.  If you have an oven proof plate (I used a cake pan), place it on top of the leaves to weigh them down.

Bring the broth to a boil and then lower the heat and cover.  Cook the leaves for 30 minutes, making sure that there is liquid in the pan at all times.  Serve the leaves at room temperature or cool.  Enjoy!

Recipe from Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes In The World

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