This recipe, like all good family recipes, was taught to me when I was young. No measurements, you just knew when it was right by the way the spices sat in your hand when poured from the bottle and the smell. If the smell takes me back to a kitchen table sitting with my mom, sisters and grandparents rolling leaves, it’s right. Since I can’t take you back there with me, I have added measurements. Please feel free to adjust accordingly and make this your own.
Unlike Greek dolmades, the version of stuffed grape leaves most of you have been exposed to, these have no mint and have meat. When I make it, I use beef as in the below recipe, but we’ve also made it with a blend of beef and lamb or pork and beef (only when we were making cabbage rolls too) depending on meat prices and how much we were making. A one pound bottle of grape leaves feeds the Godfather and I for several days with extra to share. If you’re making for a crowd and this is the featured dish in the meal, I would double the recipe.
Stuffed Grape Leaves – A Family Recipe from the Godmother
- 1lb bottle of grape leaves
- 3-4 tomatoes, chopped small
- 2.5-3 lbs beef, diced into small pieces (a leaner cut like top sirloin, trimmed and diced)*
- 4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 4 tsp salt, divided
- 1.5 tsp black pepper
- 4 cups rice
- 2.5 tbsp curry powder
- 3/4 stick butter, melted
- 1/4 stick butter, cubed
- 5 cups chicken stock
- Rinse jarred grape leaves and trim stems off the leaves using kitchen scissors. Keep under a damp paper towel so they don’t dry out.
- Mix all remaining ingredients except 1/4 stick of butter and chicken stock in a large bowl.
- Line the bottom of a large stock pot with a single layer of grape leaves. I try to pick out any that are broken or too misshapen to roll.
- Roll the remaining grape leaves, arranging them in neat layers in the pot. Sprinkle the rolled leaves with the remaining 1/4 stick of butter. Top with a plate slightly smaller than the opening of your pot to add weight so the leaves don’t unravel during cooking.
- Add the chicken stock to the pot and then fill with water until the leaves are completely submerged.
- Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer, cooking for about 45 minutes.
- Carefully drain any remaining liquid and allow to sit at least 10 minutes before removing the first few layers of leaves.
- Serve with sour cream or plain Greek yogurt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.