A recipe for stuffed grape leaves? Isn’t that a little labor intensive? Why would you ever want a recipe for stuffed grape leaves when you can buy them at Whole Foods or Fairway? While the cold ones may be fine, and the Accidental Locavore is partial to the grape leaves at Murray’s, you rarely come across the meat stuffed grape leaves, usually served hot with an egg-lemon sauce. While snacking on a cold one the other day, I had the idea to make a batch of the meat stuffed ones. I used two Greek cookbooks, Sofi’s Aegean Kitchen, and The Olive and Caper, the recipes are pretty similar, and actually pretty easy, it’s like making meatballs and wrapping them up. Between the rolling of the leaves, and making the sauce, it’s probably only 45 minutes of actual work, and it’s easy. Here’s my adaptation:
Meat Stuffed Grape Leaves
- 1 pound ground lamb (you can use a mix of lamb and beef, or just beef, but why?)
- 1 good sized onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup long-grain white rice
- 3 tablespoons Italian parsley, finely chopped (didn’t have any so left it out)
- 3 tablespoons dill, finely chopped (I probably used a little more)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1 16 ounce jar grape leaves in brine (you can make these yourself if you happen to have a grape vine…)
Rinse the grape leaves well in hot water and let drain. In a large bowl, mix all the other ingredients together. Line a large sauce pan (big enough to hold all the stuffed grape leaves in one layer) with grape leaves. This is a good time to use any that are small, or ripped. Place one grape leaf on your work space, shiny side down. Put a tablespoon of the meat mixture at the bottom of the leaf (see photo). Fold the left side into the middle, then fold the right side in and roll up towards the tip. Place in the pot with the tip (seam) side down. Repeat until you’re out of filling. The stuffed grape leaves should be fairly crowded in the pan. Put a plate over them to weigh them down. Add hot water to cover, and simmer over low heat, covered, for about an hour until they are cooked through.
Egg Lemon Sauce
- 2 cups of liquid from the grape leaves
- 3/4 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons corn starch
- 3 eggs
- 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Heat the 2 cups of liquid in a small sauce pan. In a measuring cup, mix the milk and cornstarch. Stir until smooth. Slowly add it to the broth, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat. Beat the eggs and lemon juice together until foamy. Slowly add it to the pan, stirring constantly. The sauce should be yellow and creamy. Taste it and add salt and/or more lemon juice to taste. Serve it over the warm grape leaves and enjoy.
My rating: 3 1/2 stars: Didn’t have enough lemons for the sauce, so it was a little bland. Fixed that the next day. Next time, I would also add some lemon juice to the meat mixture. This recipe has milk and cornstarch in the sauce, I’m not sure how traditional that is, and might just look for a simpler version in the future.
If you end up with more leaves than stuffing, try wrapping a slice from a log of goat cheese in a leaf, and grilling it, delicious! Also, salmon with a little olive oil, dill, and lemon, wrapped in a couple of leaves and baked, grilled or steamed is lovely.