Meat Dolmades (Stuffed Grape Leaves Recipe)
I love all roll-shaped food. Like eggplant rollatini, egg rolls, sushi, I can’t get enough of dolmades. I‘ve posted a vegetarian version in the past, but this time around I wanted to make some with meat. I decided to go with ground lamb because the meat is so flavorful without a ton of fuss. I paired the lamb with round-grained rice and flavored the filling with dried mint, black currants and caramelized fennel bulb.
I cooked them in a lightly-oiled steamer insert for almost 2 hours and let them cool to room temperature. If you’re wondering whether my husband Lulu had to just look on longingly, don’t worry; I made a separate batch of vegetarian ones for him too!
Yields: 28 dolmades¼ cup Japanese short-grained sushi rice
½ pound ground lamb
½ teaspoon red chili powder
1 small fennel bulb, finely chopped
1 tablespoons dried currants
1 tablespoon dried mint
2 teaspoons fresh dill, chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely minced
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons canned diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1-¼ teaspoons salt
1 (16-ounce) jar large pickled grape leaves
½ teaspoon white pepper, freshly ground
2 (14.25-ounce) cans chicken broth
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
juice of a lemon
Prepping the pickled grape leaves: Rinse the grape leaves under cold running water. Soak them in warm water for about an hour. Blanch the leaves for about 30 seconds in boiling water, drain and pat dry on paper towels. Remove and discard the stems.
Making dolmades filling:
In a deep non-stick pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil. Add onions and cook until nicely golden and tender (it may take 5-8 minutes). Once the onions are cooked, add garlic, fennel and cumin. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes so the fennel is caramelized and fragrant. Transfer to a plate, leaving as much oil as possible in the pan. Set aside.
In the same pan, add another tablespoon of oil. Add the rice. The oil should coat all the grains. Add 1 cup of warm chicken stock. Stir constantly. After bringing the liquid to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low; add the caramelized onions, dried currants, fennel and diced tomatoes and continue cooking for about 5-7 minutes. Check the liquid; it should all be absorbed. Add 1 tablespoon each of mint and dill. It's okay if the rice is still hard, as it will finish cooking later. Let the rice cool a little. Transfer to a large bowl. Once cooled, add the ground meat and red chili powder. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well.
On a flat surface, place 2 overlapping grape leaves. Place about 1-½ tablespoons of filling. Fold the dolmades as you would eggrolls. Roll them tightly. Make sure to tuck in the sides so the rice doesn't burst or leak while cooking. Repeat until all the rice is used.
Brush the bottom of a steamer insert with oil and cover it with 6 grape leaves. Pack the rolled dolmades tightly and stack them in two levels.
In a bowl, combine the remaining oil, lemon juice, mustard and the chicken broth. Reserve about ½ cup and add about 1 quart water to the remaining liquid. Drizzle the dolmades with the larger amount of liquid. Cover them with a large, flat heat-proof plate (to keep them in place). Seal the pan with an aluminum sheet and cover with a lid. Bring to a full boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer for 1 and a half hours. Steam should escape from the pot. Open the lid, remove the plate and drizzle the warm, reserved lemon and oil mixture over the dolmades. Turn off the heat and let stand, covered, at least 10 minutes for the rice to set.
Remove the dolmades. Drain them thoroughly and let them cool to room temperature.
Serve warm or at room temperature with tzatziki and lemon wedges on the side.
Coating each grain in oil prevents them from sticking to one another.
I used sushi rice but you could use other starchy, sticky rice such as Arborio rice.
I used Sun-Maid brand dried currants.
You can use the rest of the pickled grape leaves as a garnish in salads. Just cut them into thin strips.
I buy pickled grape vine leaves at my local Middle Eastern market. If you live in the Bay Area, check out the Rose Market -1060 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94040.
You can find sushi rice in Korean / Japanese markets; look for Kokuho Rose brand rice.Published By: on March 16, 2011.