Thursday, February 25, 2010

Homemade Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades)

Do any of you out there consider stuffed grape leaves or dolmades comfort food? I do. Man o' man are they good.

How I got such a taste for these is beyond me as I've never had them growing up. I bet most people have never even thought to make them at home but it's so easy. Dolmades are perfect for a meze platter, light lunch, or a quick snack. I couldn't even tell you which way I prefer, served hot or cold, because both ways are great.

Homemade Stuffed Grape Leaves

1 16 ounce jar of grape leaves
1 pound of ground lamb/venison
1 medium onion - chopped
1 cup basmati rice
Juice from 1 lemon
1 lemon - sliced thinly
2 cups chopped parsley
1 28 ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt

Place two skillets on separate burners on medium heat with 1 tbsp of olive oil in each skillet. In one skillet, place the venison and break it up into small pieces with the edge of a wooden spoon. Cook the venison until browned. Remove from heat. In the other skillet, saute the onion until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and stir in for about 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and simmer on low, covered for about 10 minutes. Let the rice rest for about 5 minutes.

Combine the venison, rice mixture, juice from 1 lemon, salt and parsley.

Drain the jar grape leaves. Spread out one grape leave. Place approximately a rounded tbsp of the rice on the stem side of the grape leave. Fold the stem edge over and then fold in the ends. Wrap the remaining part of the leaf as tightly as possible around the rolled mixture. Continue until all the leaves are used and the rice mixture is gone.

Drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil on the bottom of a heavy pot. Pour 1/3 of the can of tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan. Line the pot with the grape leaves in two layers. In between layers add another 1/3 of the can of tomatoes along with a few slices of lemon and top with the remaining third of the can and lemon slices.

Simmer in a covered pot for about 45 minutes. Enjoy hot or cold.

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