November 18, 2011

Stuffed Grapeleaves

Grapeleaves are one of those items I've seen at the store and wished I could buy. They seem so exotic, which might explain the high price. Deterred by the price, I always declined, since I didn't even know what to make with them anyway. Then recently I was at a grocery store in a different part of town than usual, and they had a kosher section. Intrigued (diversity is not too prevalent where I live), I strolled the aisles looking for something interesting. They had a rather large jar of grapeleaves for a decent price. So I bought them and figured I could do something with them.

This recipe for stuffed grapeleaves appears to be pretty standard. I used almost all ground lamb and a little ground beef, but if you don't like lamb, stick to beef or turkey. Also, this appears to make TONS of grapeleaves. I made a fourth of the recipe and still had too much.

I enjoyed these, but the husband said not too good. We're not that used to lamb, so that could have been part of it. Otherwise, I guess they're kind of like stuffed bell peppers, but in grapeleaves.

Stuffed Grapeleaves

from Converging Cuisine

2 lbs. ground chuck or turkey
1 lb. long grain white rice
1 small onion, finely diced
1 small green pepper, finely diced
1 clove minced garlic
8 oz tomato sauce
8 oz tomato sauce or paste
salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon

Mix ground chuck, rice, onion, green pepper, garlic and tomato sauce in large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour in some tomato sauce enough to moisten the meat. You want the meat mixture to be slightly moist, but not so it’s so wet that it is falling apart.

Place enough grapeleaves in the bottom of a large pot to cover the bottom of the pot. This will keep the grapeleaves from sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning.

Lay out a grapeleaf with the vein side up. Cut out the protruding stem, if needed. Place a small amount of the beef and rice at the bottom 1/3 of the leaf, tuck in the sides of the leaves over the meat, and begin to roll up like a cigar.

Continue rolling the grapeleaves, and laying them in rows on the bottom of the pot, which has been lined with unfilled leaves. When the first layer of grapeleaves has lined the bottom of the pot, start the new layer in the opposite direction, so that the rows criss-cross each other. This will allow the liquid to get to all the leaves easier than it would if they were all going the same direction and packed in tightly together.

Keep rolling up all the leaves, and stacking the layers, until there are no more leaves, or no more filling, or the pot is full. Leave a few inches of empty space at the top of the pot to allow room for the liquid, the plate, and for the liquid to boil and bubble up over the leaves without spilling out of the pot.

Once you’ve got your leaves all rolled, place a plate upside down over the leaves. This will keep the leaves from floating during cooking, and coming unrolled.

In the bowl that the meat mixture was in, scoop out a 8 oz can of tomato paste and mix with enough water to cover the grapeleaves.

Pour the tomato/water mixture over the leaves until they are just covered.

Add a teaspoon or so of salt, and a squeeze of half a lemon into the pot.

Cover the pot with a lid, and bring the leaves and liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, and let cook for about 30 minutes or until meat is cooked thru and rice and leaves are tender. If you have a lot of leaves, this may take longer – to test, just take out a leave from the top of the pot and taste it.

Once the leaves are cooked, remove from heat. Take out the plate, and start removing the grapeleaves with a pair of tongs, arranging them on a serving platter.

If desired, reserve the rest of the sauce from the pot, and use a little bit of it to pour over leftover leaves before reheating them.

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

How'd Jr. feel about grape leaves?