(stuffed grape leaves)
100 grape leaves
4 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 medium onions
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
3/4 cups uncooked rice
1 teaspoon parsley
1/2 tablespoon Prudhomme’s Poultry MagicTM spice
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Mediterranean rice seasoning
1 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
Your kids, relatives, neighbors, and anyone else who comes within your gravitational field.
Pick 100 grape leaves. Remove stems. This is a great task for the kids. If you don’t have grapes growing on the side of the hill in your front yard, they can be found at the Greek section of your supermarket.
Dice onion. Saute onion in butter until tender and golden. Pour mix into big bowl. Let it cool for at least five minutes. Your fingers will thank you. Add turkey, rice, parsley, poultry spice, coriander, pepper, rice seasoning, water, tomato sauce, and lemon juice. Whew. Mix thoroughly.
(Memorize the following phrases to sound like a great chef: heat over to 350 degrees, cook to golden brown, use a big pot, mix thoroughly, and stir occasionally.)
Put all the grape leaves in a big pot. (See? Sounds culinary, doesn’t it?) Cover the leaves with water. Cook on medium-high heat until all the leaves turn from a bright green to an olive green. This is called blanching.
Pour out all the water. (Try pouring it on that pan you used to fry eggs. That hot water will loosen the egg bits from the pan right quick.)
Put the leaves on a big plate. Take a leaf and put it on a board, or another plate, with the smooth, shiny side face down. Put about a teaspoon of your meat/rice/spice mix in the middle of the leaf. Fold the bottom of the leaf until it just covers the mix. Fold both sides in so they completely cover the mix. Roll up the leaf like a burrito or spring roll, making sure to keep the sides folded in. This step takes the longest.
Put a few leaves on the bottom of the pot. Put the first rolled up leaves, dolmathes, up against the sides of the pot. Put the next leaves against those leaves and so on. You need the dolmathes jammed together so they don’t unravel. Add layers as necessary.
Add water to pot until all dolmathes are covered. Place a lid that is slightly smaller than the pot on top of the dolmathes to further keep them from unraveling. Cook on low heat for 45 minutes.
You can speed up the process by cooking the rice while mixing the meat and spices together. In this case, reduce the cooking of the dolmathes to 30 minutes.
Don’t throw away the liquid that remains in the pot after you serve the dolmathes. It makes an excellent broth.
1) Dolmathe is a great ScrabbleTM word.
2) I first made this dish years ago for my wife’s birthday. We are still married.
3) My family and I first ate dolmathes at a wonderful Greek restaurant in Portland, Oregon.
4) I went to graduate school in Madison, Wisconsin. The two Greek restaurants nearest to the school were across the street from each other.
5) The three stages of mathematics are: 1) numbers, 2) lower-case English letters, and 3) Greek letters. If there is a fourth stage, I don’t want to know it. My head would explode.
6) Socrates almost died in battle. If he had, all Western philosophical thought would have been completely altered. Cliff Notes would have put out one fewer booklet.
– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef
My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.