Wednesday, 7 May 2008


Grape leaves stuffed with lamb, apricot and olives
Grape leaves in brine
250g minced lamb
2/3 cup rice (I'm using arborio)
1 cup chopped apricot
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup black olive (hulled and chopped)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper

Brown lamb and garlic in olive oil, add rice and stir just until rice begins to brown. Stir in remaining lamb filling ingredients. Set aside to let it cool.

Bring a big pot of water to a simmer. Blanch the grape leaves in the hot water for 5 minutes until pliable. Drain then trim the stems and any hard veins from the leaves. Pat dry with paper towels.

To assemble the dolmades, lay a grape leaf on a work surface, shiny-side down. Put 1 or 2 tablespoons (depending on the size of the leaf) of the rice filling near the stem end of the leaf. Fold the stem end over the filling, then fold both sides toward the middle, and roll up into a cigar – it should be snug but not overly tight because the rice will swell once it is fully cooked. Squeeze lightly in the palm of your hand to secure the roll. Repeat with remaining grape leaves and filling.

Place the dolmades in a large casserole dish, seam-side down in a single layer. Pour about 2 1/2 cups chicken broth over the dolmades, the liquid should reach halfway up the rolls, add some more water if necessary.

Bake in a moderate 180 C oven for 35 minutes on the top shelf, uncovered.

When you take them from the oven, let them sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. They are much less likely to fall apart this way.

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