I made Dolmathes (yaprakia- as they say on the Island of Lipso) for an Open House (a Drop in- as they say in Florence, SC) last month and it’s time to share the recipe before the Lenten season comes.
PREP THE FILLING-
- In a large bowl I added 1 ½ lbs. of ground beef and 1 cup of short grain rice. Most Greek cooks swear by Uncle Ben’s rice. I also add more rice than most recipes. I like the extra rice.
- I put a large onion, a fist full of fresh parsley leaves, and a fist full of fresh mint in a large food processor. It looked like pesto when I stopped it. I used the food processor because my son hates chunks of onions in his food. (My mom also adds dill.)
- I added 3 large cloves of garlic by grating them on a zester over the open processor and spun the blades a few seconds more. I could have added more even though my mom doesn't use garlic.
- Then I added the onion mixture, one egg, salt and pepper and a ¼ c grated kefalotiri cheese to the meat and rice. The cheese really wasn’t necessary but I still had it left over from the Open House. You can add Parmesan cheese. (My mom doesn't use cheese or egg.)
- I squished it all together with my hand- leaving the other free to take pictures.
PREP THE GRAPE LEAVES-
- I used ½ a large jar (16 oz) of grape leaves. I will use the rest to make Lenten dolmathes with rice, dill and zucchini instead of rice and meat. The jar tightly holds two bunches of grape leaves in brine. Pull out a bunch and rinse each leaf under cold water. I line them around a colander to drain for a moment. You can always get more fromthe jar.
PREP THE POT-
- Line the bottom of a large stockpot with 4-5 grape leaves. This will keep the dolmathes from scorching.
AND NOW WE ROLL!!!
- On a flat surface- (I use a cutting board or a cookie sheet) lay a grape leaf stem side up on a flat surface. Some recipes will tell you to trim off the stem, but it really isn’t necessary.
- Form an oblong meatball about 3 inches long and place on grape leaf stem.
- Fold to leaf closest to you over the meat,
- Fold sides in and roll along table to form dolmathe.
- Place the dolmathe off to the side, seam side down so they don’t unravel, until it’s all done.
- When all the meat is used, lay the rolls along the bottom of the pot filling as much space as possible and a layer at a time.
- Add about 4 cups Chicken Broth, (vegetable broth for Lenten recipe) enough to cover the rolls plus 2 inches.
- Invert a heat proof plate over the dolmathes to keep them from floating. You may need to weigh it down with an empty jar. Add water to jar if it’s not heavy enough.
- Bring broth to a boil then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 1 ½ - 2 hours. Keep an eye on the level of broth. You can always add water to the pot if necessary.
After 1 1/2 hours
Dolmathes are great for dinner parties because they stay hot for a long time. You can serve with lemon or an avgolemono (egg-lemon) sauce.
- Set 2 eggs on the counter to reach room temperature. Separate whites from yolks in two bowls.
- Whip the egg whites with a hand mixer in a large bowl until frothy. (I had an aunt who would do this by hand with a fork!)
- Add yolks one at a time and beat a few minutes more.
- Slowly add the juice of one lemon.
- Heat 2 cups of chicken broth in microwave or on stove top. (You can also use the broth from cooking the dolmathes)
- Slowly pour 1 cup of hot broth into bowl while beating egg/lemon mixture. Be careful to temper the egg slowly so the egg doesn’t curdle.
- This sound means that dinner will be ready in 15 minutes, so start setting the table.
- You can incorporate the rest of the broth without the mixer.
Put cooked dolmathes on a platter or bowl. Pour avgolemono on top. Serve and enjoy!