Delicious Lamb Stuffed Leaves Of Grapes
1 1/2 lb ground lamb (You can substitute beef if you'd like, but in my experience beef becomes dry during the process)
1 c rice (basmati is ideal to limit cooking time but long grain is what I have so it wins today)
1/2c flat-leaf parsley
6 garlic cloves minced (set aside 4 garlic cloves peeled to add to the broth)
1 whole yellow onion (turned out to be about a cup and a half) chopped finely
1 Tbl dried cardamom
1 tsp bl pepper
2 Tbl Olive oil (I’m using avocado oil bc it’s what I have on hand - again) this goes directly into meat mixture but you will need more when layering leaves in the pot
2 Tbl salt (I use pink Himalayan )
40 or more fresh or jarred grape leaves - if fresh the must be blanched first if jarred the should be thoroughly rinsed and destemmed.
3 to 4 cups of water or beef broth
TIP: The type of rice you use will alter the cooking time. If you are using the shorter grained rice you can start checking them for doneness sooner.
I'm using jarred leaves so I make sure they have been rinsed and all of the stems have been removed, as these do not cook well and can become a choking hazard later.
Mix together the raw meat, the uncooked rice, the onions, garlic, oil, herbs, and spices.
1tbl of this mixture goes into each grape leaf. place a finger-sized roll of the mix in the center bottom of the leaf with the ROUGH side (or side where veins are protruding) facing up. tuck the sides of the leaf over the meat mixture and begin rolling it away from you - continuing to tuck additional edges as you roll.
As you come across torn or unusable leaves set them aside we will line the bottom of our pot with them later.
TIP: You want to be sure you are rolling the leaves medium tight. Not too tight because with the rice they need room to expand without ripping apart. Not so loose that they unravel easily under the pressure of a boil. A bit between the two should do.
I like mine Lemony Snicket’s so I use 1/2 c freshly squeezed lemon juice (JUST) while cooking. I often splash on even more fresh lemon at the end of the cooling process and can also be witnessed adding EVEN more fresh lemon while I am enjoying my plate.
I also stuff zucchini and add carrot pieces to add to the pot.
I use any torn or extra leaves to cover the bottom of the pot before cooking and use the stuffed zucchini and most of the carrots next, get the layer as level as you can in the pot then generously salt - pepper - and oil the layer before starting the next layer. Make sure leaves and placed seam side down to prevent their unrolling the best we can. I have ALWAYS had at least 3 come unrolled no matter how many times I have prepared this.
Once you have come to the end with your mixture you want to cover the pot with a plate to prevent the unrolling of leaves and hold them down during the cooking process. Be sure to use one the won't break - that's my best advice! Add lemon juice then the water or beef broth until the water line is above the top layer; additionally, cover the pot with a well-fitting lid.
Cook boiling 20 minutes then simmer an hour. Let stand 20 minutes so juices can absorb back into grape leaves - serve hot or cold / day or night / snack or meal. These things are amazingly versatile and delicious.
Serve sprinkled with feta aside (I prefer ->) flatbread (to pita) and hummus plus fancy schmancy lemon wedges for any additionally desired zest.