These tender and delicious stuffed grape leaf rolls known as dolmathes (dol-MAH-thes) are stuffed with a hearty meat and rice filling and are commonly served as a main entree. The smaller, rice and pine nut filled dolmathakia (dol-mah-THAH-kya) are usually served as an appetizer or meze.
To see an updated (different) version click here: Dolmathes | Grape Leaves Stuffed With Meat
- 50 fresh grape leaves or 1 jar (16 oz.) brined grape leaves
- 1 lb. ground lamb or ground beef (or a mixture of both)
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 2 tbsp. fresh dill, minced
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 cup uncooked rice (short grain preferably)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, strained
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 cans (15 oz.) chicken broth or stock
- For the Avgolemono Sauce:
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- Juice of two or three lemons, strained
Note: Brined grape leaves are packed by weight so the quantity may vary from jar to jar
If using brined leaves, rinse well to remove brine. Blanch the leaves in some boiling water for 3 – 5 minutes to soften them and make them more pliable. Remove from water and set aside.
In a large skillet or Dutch oven, over medium high heat, brown the ground lamb (or beef) until no longer pink in color. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the dill, parsley, and rice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice.
Line the bottom of a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven with a layer of grape leaves. (I use the broken or torn ones for this.)
Place a leaf with the stem towards you on a flat surface. The underside of the leaf should be face up. (The veins of the leaf are raised on the underside.) Using the point of a sharp paring knife, cut out the stem of the leaf. Overlap the bottom two sections of the leaf toward the center.
Continue rolling the packet up toward the top point of the leaf.
Place the rolls in tight layers in the saucepan or pot. Be sure to place them seam side down.
Add 1/2 cup olive oil, chicken stock and enough water to cover the rolls by about an inch. Place an inverted heatproof plate on top of the rolls to keep them submerged. Cover the saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes to an hour or until the leaves are tender and the rice is cooked through.
Prepare the Avgolemono Sauce:
You should have at least two cups of liquid in the pot. If you need to, add some water to supplement the liquid.
Using a whisk, beat the eggs in a medium bowl until frothy. Slowly whisk in the lemon juice. Ladle one cup of the pot liquid little by little into egg-lemon mixture to temper the eggs. Remove pot from heat and add egg-lemon mixture and gently shake the pot to stir.
Heat over very low heat until sauce thickens and is heated through. Take care not to allow the sauce to boil or the eggs will curdle.
Dolmathes can be enjoyed warm or at room temperature.