I can’t remember a time in my life that I did not crave my mom’s grape leaves! My earliest memories involve my mom sitting at the kitchen table rolling grape leaves. They have always been one of my favorite foods and I am thrilled that they are now a favorite of both of my daughters. Hours of labor go into making these grape leaves, and they are worth every minute. Trust me!! You can taste the love exploding out of them. They are coveted in my house and treated like GOLD.
Grape leaves are sometimes called Dolmas, which means "something stuffed". They are commonly found in Middle Eastern, Greek, Turkish and Lebanese cuisines. Middle eastern variations are typically served hot and are broth based. Greek variations are typically served cold and are olive oil based. I will be sharing my family variation which is Egyptian.
I love cooking my mom’s recipes and I hope that I do her justice. If you have family recipes that you give you all of the warm, fuzzy feels, I encourage you to get the recipes and try. Let the tradition live on. I will think of my family every time I make these and that puts a huge smile on my face.
Most of the ingredients below are easy to find. If you cannot find a jar of grape leaves at your regular grocery store, try an import store. In Houston, I recommend Phoenicia Specialty Foods. You can also find them at Fiesta Mart.
If you would like to speed this recipe up, you can use prepared chicken or beef broth to cook. However, if you would like the extra challenge, you can home make your beef broth as my mom does. Recipe variation below!
After making this recipe for the first time, here are a couple of tips.
Place a steamer rack on the bottom of your pot to stop anything from burning on the bottom. https://www.amazon.com/Steamer-Cooling-Stainless-Cooking-5-Inches/dp/B075VBQTRQ/ref=sr_1_8?crid=2637O8UUYYHBY&keywords=wire+rack+for+pot&qid=1641050823&sprefix=wire+rack+for+pot%2Caps%2C139&sr=8-8
Pack your grape leaves very tightly in the pot, especially if you plan to flip them over before serving to maintain the round, stacked shape.
Oxtails can be purchased in thick pieces or thinner pieces. Either are fine for making the broth. But if you would like to cook the grape leaves with the meat as well, opt for the thinner ones to accommodate your pot.
Stuffed Grape Leaves
Makes approximately 64 grape leaves
Serving Size 8 grape leaves
Serves 8 people
1 medium onion
1 bunch parsley
1.5 cup uncooked white rice, rinsed
1 pound ground beef
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp allspice
2 tbsp tomato sauce
¼ cup butter
1 jar grape leaves
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3-4 cups chicken broth or beef broth (or make your own broth, instructions below!) The amount of broth depends on the size of the pot.
To Make Filling
Finely chop onion in a food processor.
Add parsley to the onion in the food processor and finely chop together.
Place onion and parsley mixture in a large bowl. Add in rinsed rice, ground beef, salt, pepper, all spice and tomato sauce. Mix together by hand.
Melt butter and add to mixture. Set aside filling.
To Stuff Grape Leaves
Drain and rinse grape leaves in a colander. Pat dry.
Lay one grape leaf flat in front of you. Cut the tip of the stem off of the grape leaf and cut the grape leaf in half lengthwise.
Place a small amount of mixture on the bottom of the leaf. Fold in the sides then roll up. Repeat with remaining grape leaves.
Stack grape leaves in a pot tightly.
Add lemon juice, vegetable oil and broth to the pot. Add enough broth that it should come up to right below the top row of grape leaves.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, place a small plate over the top of the leaves to keep them compacted, cover and simmer for 2 hours.
Alternative - Make Your Own Broth
1.5 pounds sliced beef oxtails
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp allspice
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp tomato sauce
Add butter to a deep saute pan. Saute oxtails until browned.
Add salt, pepper, allspice, cinnamon and bay leaves.
Add water until oxtails are covered.
Bring to a boil then simmer covered until the oxtails are cooked approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. Meat should easily pull away from the bone.
Stir in tomato sauce when finished.
Strain. Reserve the oxtails if you would like to cook the grape leaves with them.
If you make these grape leaves, please tag me or send me a picture! I would LOVE to hear your experience! #SimplyMarwah