This authentic Armenian Meat Dolma recipe is so good, you'll be wondering why you haven't been stuffing grape leaves your whole life.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Armenian, Mediterranean
Keyword: dolma, gluten-free
Author: K.C. Cornwell
stock pot with lid
oven-safe plate that fits inside the stock pot
2.5lbsLulu Kebab(see recipe below)
1tsp.ground black pepper
5-7hollowed out small vegetablessuch as sweet peppers, squash, eggplant
1 16 oz.jar grape leaves
124 oz.can tomato sauce
to make Lulu Kebab:
1.5lbs80/20 ground beef
1large yellow oniondiced
1TBSPpaprikasmoked is best
1/2tsp.ground black pepper
if you're making your own Lulu Kebab:
Add the ground beef and lamb to a large mixing bowl. (Make sure the bowl is large enough to mix the meat plus all the filling ingredients too.) Add all the Lulu Kebab ingredients and mix to combine.
to make the Dolma:
Warm the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat, and saute the onion and shallot until translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Set aside.
Place the Lulu Kebab in large mixing bowl, or pull it over if you made your own. Add the rice, allspice, parsley, salt and pepper to the meat. Add the sauteed onion and shallot, and mix to combine.
Prepare a stockpot or large Dutch oven with non-stick spray or olive oil. Place a large cutting board in front of you or clear a work surface, You'll want access to the grape leaves, veggies, stockpot, and possibly a small spoon (I use my fingers.) I usually have a couple of paper towels and a garbage bowl handy too. Plus a glass of wine.
First, hollow out the small veggies. You can finely chop any good bit from the centers and add them to the stuffing mix or save them for soup later. Carefully fill the veggies with the meat filling, packing them tightly but not cracking them open. Set the filled vegetables on the side of your workspace.
Pull the grape leaves from the jar, allowing the brine to drain off. They are often bundled with string or rolled in bunches, so remove the string if needed and unroll the leaves so the lay flat. Pinch the stems off each leaf, looking to see if any have rips or tears, or any seem tougher than the others. Use these flawed leaves to make a layer along the bottom of your pot. The layer should cover the entire bottom and be two leaves deep. If you don't have enough poor leaves for the bottom layer, add a couple of good ones.
Now, begin filling the leaves. Work one leaf at at time (or the ones underneath will tear). Place about 1 TBSP of filling in the widest part of the leaf. Fold the sides in, and then roll the leaf up from the base (where the stem was) to the tip. It should look like a small spring roll or cigar. Lay the filled dolma in the bottom of the pan. Repeat this process, adding each dolma right next to the last. (You want them next together, but not packed tight.) Once you have a full layer of wrapped grape leaves, add the filled vegetables to the second layer, then pack filled grapes leaves around them to form another layer. Depending on the size of your pot, you may or may not have a third layer. If you do, add the dolma in the center first and work outward. You should have some grape leaves remaining - don't throw any away that tear!
Once the filling has all been used, squeeze the juice of the lemon over the dolma. Then pour in the tomato sauce. Cover with a layer of remaining grape leaves, then put the plate face down over the leaves. (You can refrigerate at this step and cook tomorrow.) Cover with a lid.
To cook, start the pot at medium heat, and tip the lid to release a small amount of steam. Once the liquid begins to bubble around the edge of the plate, reduce to low and cover fully, and cook for 1.5 hours. Check the pot occasionally to make certain it's still slightly simmering and not burning, and that there is still a bit of liquid bubbling around the plate. You can add a 1/4 cup water if needed (usually not) or adjust heat.
Once the dolma have cooked, remove from heat and remove the pot lid. Carefully remove the plate with tongs. Let them cool a bit a enjoy!
Once you've wrapped the dolma and added the lemon juice & tomato sauce, you can cover and refrigerate to cook the following day.