HOW TO MAKE DELICIOUS STUFFED VINE LEAVES-DOLMADES
First you need your freshly picked vine leaves, we have several vines to choose from, but prefer an outdoor red variety that is rampant but doesnt produce great fruit. The leaves are large and tasty. Harvest 40-50 or so, when fresh and blanch in hot salted water,
till chlorophyll takes on a rich green. Allow to cool.
Snip the stem close to the leaf.
Now it’s time to make the filling, you can use meat or brown lentils, traditionally pork and lamb are mixed 50/50. But you can use beef or wild boar. Experiment the skys the limit.
Fry gently 2-3 finely chopped onions
, add 1″ cinnamon bark(remove later), ground black pepper and nutmeg, chilli if you like a little kick.
Once soft and golden add your mince or lentils, brown then add tomato puree, and cook in,
then tin of toms or passata. Freshly chopped parsley is a must, you could also add fresh chopped coriander.
Add about a litre of boiled water to cover(you will use the excess liquid to add to the stuffed vine leaves as a liquor) Then salt and simmer for 20-30mins. This allows you time to cook the rice.
You don’t need a great deal as it will dilute the flavour, 1-2 cups, rinse.
Now drain the liquor from the mince into another pan.
Add the washed rice to the mince stir well and allow to cool
Now your ready to roll, this takes some manual dexterity, practice makes perfect.
Add a table spoon of the mince onto the vine leaf at the base
Carefully fold one end over the mince to the middle then the other
Care not to tear the leaf.
Now bring in the two wings and roll to the apex
Put a small plate at the bottom of a large saucepan(this is to stop it burning the dolmades), and slowly arrange the stuffed leaves as you wrap them, in layers till full
Pour the liquor until covered, you can use a stock to bulk out the liqour. Cover with a few vine leaves and simmer with the lid on for 1 1/2-2 hours, or until all the liqour is absorbed, keep a regular eye out it doesn’t burn at the bottom. Rest then serve.