Monday, May 4, 2015

Lamb & Rice Stuffed Grape Leaves – Hours to Make, Seconds to Eat, Totally Worth It

There’s no getting around the fact that these lamb and rice stuffed grape leaves, aka “dolmas,” take some time and effort to put together, but at least they’ll all be gone in just a few minutes. What I’m trying to say is, maybe make a double batch.

If you order these at your favorite Mediterranean restaurant, you’ve probably enjoyed the more common meatless version, but I really do love the lamb in these. The technique works the same no matter what you use, but of course, how much rice you use will affect how much liquid you need.

As far as the grape leaves go, I’ve only done these with the ones in the jar, which work great for me. I’ve heard these are even better with fresh grape leaves, but where the heck am I going to get my hands on those in Northern California?

As I mentioned in the video, these are wonderful at any temperature, which makes them a great option for parties. You can put them out warm, knowing that they’ll be just as delicious when they are cold. I garnished mine very simply with lemon and olive oil, but any cold yogurt sauce makes for a beautiful dip. I really hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 32 Lamb & Rice Stuffed Grape Leaves:
1/2 pound ground lamb
rounded 1/2 cup long grain rice
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 tablespoon currants
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon dry oregano
2 tablespoons chopped mint
1 large egg
1 jar (16-oz) grape leaves, drained and rinsed

To cook the “Dolmas:”
4 cups chicken broth (tip: use already hot to save time)
Juice of one lemon
drizzle of olive oil

- Simmer, covered, gently for about 45 minutes or until rice is tender. I usually check at around 35 minutes, and play it by ear from there.


Psyrixx said...

This is very close to how my nana (fresh off the boat from Armenia) used to make dolma, so I'd say your recipe is pretty authentic! At least, the technique. Her stuffing was much more basic (just rice & meat) but they tasted fantastic!

Psyrixx said...

Actually, now that I think of it, her stuffing was rice, seasoned meat, tomato paste and sometimes freshly chopped mint. Still pretty basic, but not plain. :)

Jacob H said...

Hi Chef!

I love the grainy-nutty taste of brown rice. Would brown rice work or would adjusting the cooking time affect the texture of the grape leaf too much?

Jef Willemsen said...

So, essentially this is your recipe for stuffed cabbage without the tomato sauce and even more fragile leaves :) Will definitely give 'em a try though, if they're half as good as the lambagerolls, they'll be an addictive treat.

Rana said...

I bet you had to beat your finger to prevent it from adding Cayanne!!! LOL (REALLY APPRECIATED THIS EFFORT)
I am a Syrian and I cook these all the time and I am truly happy how authentic yours came out chef John, You are THE BEST.

Kia Dufun said...

OMG! I did not expect this! My heart stopped when I saw this new blogpost of yours. In my wildest dream, I never thought that you would teach this recipe! I'm sooooo glad! These are succulents but when I purchased them, I always had to question the sanitary condition they were kept in and for how long (I found mildew under it on so many occasions) so I do not buy them anymore. But, atlast, I can make them! I want to thank you so much and if you were anywhere near me, I'd be kissing you (respectfully, don't worry)! From now on, your blogpost goes from foodwishes to dreams comes true recipes!

Paula Matyka said...

Just curious if you have ever made these without rinsing the brine off of the grape leaves. My wife's family is Lebanese, and we generally don't rinse them at all. They normally still taste great, though I'm definitely willing to try rinsing them next time to see the difference in flavor, and was just curious if this step is just a particular preference of yours. Thanks for the video, as always!

Bobbisox said...

I had to giggle that you, who live amongst the best climate for grapes and across from Napa (although I am even more familiar with the vineyards on the area NOT across from the Golden Gate bridge) can not find fresh grape leaves? Heck you could snag a couple next time you have a small tour coming down the coast. I use the leaves off my grapes in the back yard. I suspect people use the jarred ones as they are less astringent and are more tender as the ones on the vines need to be young to be tender. I will have to give your version a try. I love lamb and am always up for new recipes.

James said...

Chef John; not only have you made an incredible dish, but you caused me to have a "flashback" to an earlier era.

My culinary journey started when I went to the University of Illinois Chicago Circle Campus, next to 'Greek Town' along Halsted Street.

I remember eating Dolmades (with Lamb, of course) along with a nice bottle of Retsina many times.

Thanks for this recipe!

Kimmy Kim said...

Hi chef, I would love to see you cooking some Moroccan dishes. Moroccan cuisine is very rich and I'm sure you will love it too. Thank you 😊🙏🏼

Kia Dufun said...

Update: I did make this recipe on Mother's Day (my day!) and put to work my girls and we rolled and rolled (because I did 3 times the recipe!). It was very very very good! Incredible instructions, everything was easy to understand and to follow. I did not put currants nor pine nuts (didn't have any and girls as well as hubby don't like it), thus adding less cinnamon. And use beef instead of lamb (for convenience reasons). Everybody loved it. Thank you! I had a great time doing this recipe and I will do it again and again. Lots of thanks!

Kitchenwitch said...

If you wanted to make these without the lamb, how much more rice should be used? Also, could you comment on using brown basmati rice instead of white (extending cooking time, etc.)?

Flowerdamsel said...

Dear Chef John... Like you, I had a horrible time with the first jar of 'cigar' leaves. I was making a double batch too. I thought that there must be a trick in getting these leaves apart. YES, THERE IS. The top end closest to the lid when pulled out, run it under cold tap water and gently pull apart. They all unraveled beautifully. ALL MY LEAVES WERE HAPPY and so was I.
Thank you for a great recipe:)

Flowerdamsel said...

And all these dolmas were eaten at the Labor Day party. I was soooooo sad because I had eaten these long ago at a Greek Orthodox Church festival. It was the first time that I had ever eaten a stuffed grape leaf and it was wonderful. I always would try them on a fancy salad bar and never, ever did they compare. I now know why... these leaves were homemade. I made your recipe and the yogurt sauce and it was to die for. SO DELICIOUS. None were left on the plate! WOW. Now going to be an appetizer for Christmas or New Years. These were the best. I did soak the brined leaves and change the water at least 3 times. I also chop and cook 1/2 a onion and 2 cloves of garlic and add to the mix. I got this from 'Lambage Rolls'. Excellent recipe with lots of love to make. AWESOME! And... yes, I after buying those grape leaves in a jar of $6.99 each and lamb at $8.49 per pound... I did splurge on Glage yogurt. THE BEST LEAVES I HAVE EVER HAD AND GUESTS ATE THEM ALL. So GOOD!

njbruce said...

Turned out great with the Mezzetta bottled grape leaves I had on hand in the pantry. Alas...this company no longer produces that product and I am in TX with not many vineyards close to us at all. Looks like I will have to haunt our local mediterranean market to get a bottle the size I want...I have seen bottled grape leaves on line but for one go round, I do not need a one pound bottle.