My mom’s favorite food are the Greek delicacy, dolmathes, AKA stuffed grape leaves. As much as I love the ones that come out of a can, there is really nothing like ones made from scratch. My grandmother, my mom’s mom, makes the best dolmathes … but they are slightly labor-intensive and she doesn’t make them so often.
So my mom got grape leaves and told me that we were going to try to make them ourselves… on a Wednesday, no less.
My mom and I like the meat and rice-stuffed dolmathes, so in a large bowl combine ground beef, finely chopped onion, olive oil, fresh mint, fresh dill, and some salt and pepper.
Then add the rice!
My grandmother uses the Italian Arborio rice, but we used plain old white long-grain rice.
And mix with your hands…
Look how pretty!
The hardest part of the whole dolmathes making process is the rolling. Here is my mama’s way… (PS – excuse the blurry pictures… this was kinda hard to do one-handed).
On a plate, place a grape leaf that has been cleaned, boiled, and cooled completely. Or a grape leaf that has been cleaned, boiled, cooled, and packed into a jar which you can buy at your local grocery store. Whatever floats your boat.
Place about less than a tablespoon of filling on the bottom of the grape leaf.
Roll up the bottom of the leaf over the filling.
And then fold over one side of the leaf over the filling.
Continue to roll up the leaf over the filling tightly, until you have a ½ inch left at the top.
Fold over the other side of the leaf.
Then roll it completely up – it looks like a little burrito!
Then place them in a steamer – we placed a colander that has feet on the bottom of our large soup pot. Make sure all the dolmathes are close together. This allows them to steam evenly and not unroll.
My mom used low-sodium chicken broth to steam these babies, but you can use water or vegetable stock if your heart desires. Drizzle the dolmathes with another tablespoon of olive oil and weigh them down with an oven-proof plate. This keeps them from unrolling.
When they are all steamed, pull them out and place them in a pretty dish.
And smother with avgolemono sauce (a thick, egg-y, lemon-y sauce that is delicious on not only dolmades but everything).
My mom and I mastered dolmades… what dish should we tackle next?
Your dolmathes makin’ master,
1lb ground beef, 85% lean
½ onion, diced finely
2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely minced
2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely minced
¼ cup long grain white rice
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb jar of grape leaves, drained and placed in between layers of moist paper towel
1-2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
- In a large bowl, combine beef, onion, mint, dill, rice, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Combine thoroughly. Set aside.
- On a plate, place a grape leaf in the center. Cut out the little stem end at the bottom of the leaf. Place a tablespoon of filling on the stem end of the leaf. Roll up the bottom, and fold over one side of the leaf and continue to roll. When almost to the top, fold in the second side and continue to roll into a burrito shape.
- In a large soup pot, place a footed strainer in the bottom. Place the rolled grape leaves in the strainer, packing them tightly. When all the dolmathes are in the pot, pour over 1-2 cups of chicken broth and drizzle them with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place an oven-proof plate over the dolmathes to weigh them down. Cover and bring to a boil.
- When the pot comes to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 40 minutes to 1 hour, or until cooked through.
- Serve immediately with avgolemono sauce.