I’m not sure when exactly my mother and I started making these Greek/Lebanese lamb-stuffed grape leaves, but dolmades (dolma is the singular) have been a staple of ours for potlucks and gatherings for ages and ages. Feel free to experiment with yours.
First you need a jar of pickled grape leaves. I’m sure there are different kinds of leaves that are good for different things, but we usually pick the jar that has the largest leaves with the greenest colour. You need to drain and rinse these suckers a couple of times to get the brine off.You also want to cook up some rice.
Two cups cooked rice should be sufficient.
You can always freeze whatever you don’t use in a freezer bag for chucking into soups later on.
Defrost about 2lbs ground lamb.
A large onion. You want to practically mince that sucker.
Parsley. Lots of it. Chopped up, probably about a cup.
Ditto thyme, though less so, probably a few tablespoons.
Don’t forget what I told you about freezing herbs.
You probably also want to add some dill, but we didn’t have any.
A handful of pine nuts.
Mix all those ingredients up in a bowl. Use your hands, don’t be afraid.
Now take a grape leaf and lay it flat on a plate, vein side up.
Take a tablespoon or so of your lamb filling and plop it on the leaf, near where the stem should be.
Tuck in the sides of the leaf.
Roll the rest of it up like a cigar.
Here is your completed dolma. Now do that another 40-50 times until you run out of lamb.
Now, take the small and broken grape leaves and line the bottom of a large pot with them. Place your rolled dolmades on top, close together, double-stacked, until you run out.
Drizzle your completed dolmades with a bit of olive oil. Layer more grape leaves on top.
Fill the pot to the edge of the dolmades with chicken broth and bring to a boil before lowering the heat and simmering for about 45 minutes.
Serve them hot, serve them cold. I prefer them nice and warm, as I think they have more taste that way. They’re really good with yogurt.