Dolmathes, or stuffed grape leaves are one of my favorite things to make, maybe its because my mom used me as child labor starting from age 8 or so to help with labor at our restaurant. During my formative years, about age 3 to age 14 my parents ran a restaurant/bar, perhaps this explains much of my oddness in general. If you’ve worked in the “industry” it attracts a special group of folks, an awesomely bi-polar group of misfits, especially in Utah in the 80’s and 90’s, the food biz didn’t make you a rock star like “chefs” are in the now times. Cooking was a job for the troubled soul, the criminal, the outcast, and this is perhaps why I am so fond of those types in general. Myself and my sisters would sit at the bar or later in the back by the walk in at our place on 33rd and Washington, and roll dolmathes or stab souvlaki for hours, honestly I hated it at the time…now I would go back in a heart beat just to sit and listen to “Rollin’s Band”, talk with our staff, and argue with my sisters while I flipped marinade at them. Good ole’ days. Anyhoo, I am sharing this recipe…its honestly a little hard for me to do, as I am attached to it and never given it out. Shall we begin the potion of amore? Yes I think so:
Ground meat of choice: about two pounds or so, I used Ground beef 85/15
1 cup long grain rice, you can use quinoa or another fast cooking grain if you wish….make it yours.
1 jar grape leaves in brine, if you live on a wine vineyard in Napa or something feel free to use fresh leaves, just salt and blanch beforehand.
a tsp each: Salt, pepper, granulated garlic, dried oregano (I used dried herbs d’ provence), dried mint.
2T fresh parsley
1 large shallot diced
Grab a bowl and combine above ingredients, get in there and show that meat who’s the boss, kinda like Tony Danza…..once mixed it’s time to let the good times roll. One does this by taking a grape leaf and putting a “fat fingers” worth of filling in and rolling it “burrito style”.
Once your lil’ buddies are all rolled put them in a heavy bottomed pan, use a plate placed over them to weigh them down, then add 3 cups beef stock, cover, bring to a boil then turn down to medium low for about 30 minutes. When finished cooking, squeeze juice from one lemon over dolmathes, whip 3 eggs till light, temper in 1 cup of the cooking liquid and heat on low till lightly thickened……pour over dolmathes and serve! They are dangerously addictive and can make a hermit become a people person. Use wisely and well.