Now that we’ve made the stuffing, it’s time to get to stuffing!
Or, more accurately, rolling.
You are going to need a large pot and a lot of grape leaves. We’re using the ones from meme’s back yard. To prepare the grape leaves, you will need to boil them first, just slightly, and remove the stems. Meme did this before we got there, so I can’t tell you how it’s really done.
Hey, a woman’s entitled to keep some secrets!
Get a comfy chair, some music and some friends. You will be here for a while.
Here’s the first secret from meme when rolling grape leaves. Feel the leaf. Look for the side with veins that are more raised. That will be the inside of the grape leaf, so it should be facing up.
Drop a little bit of the meat mixture onto the leaf down near where the stem was. Be careful not to put too much. Remember the rice isn’t cooked yet and it will expand.
Take the two sides next to the meat and fold them in so they are covering the meat mix.
And then roll the leaf up like a little burrito. Don’t put too much meat in and make sure you roll it right. Or meme will be mad.
But if you roll it right, you will have a happy meme!
I should give credit here where credit is due. The master roller is really pepe. Here’s pepe telling Christopher how to do it the right way.
Pepe is way fast at rolling grape leaves.
Chris and I are taking our time, making sure we get it right.
This is the time when you start telling family stories. A lot of good stories can come out while you’re sitting around the table, rolling grape leaves.
See, that’s me listening to a story. I can’t share them with you though, because what happens at the kitchen table rolling grape leaves, stays at the kitchen table rolling grape leaves.
This is serious business. Pepe has his glasses on. See. Serious. By the way, see all that meat? Yup, that all needs to get rolled up.
We’re still rolling…
As you get piles and piles of grape leaves, start placing them in the pot, packed closely, like this.
Jeff took that job.
Add a sprig of thyme to the pot when all of the grape leaves are complete.
We still had a lot of meat mixture left, so we stuffed some vegetables too. Remember when we made the mix and we used the scooped out insides of the tomatoes? Well, there’s the tomatoes. The perfect little container for some stuffing.
We also did some peppers and some eggplants. And some cabbage leaves. And yes, we needed two pots.
Basically, keep hollowing out vegetables and stuffing them until all the meat is gone.
Meme does this by herself most of the time. Think about that. Her and pepe. rolling all those leaves. And stuffing all those vegetables. I think she was happy to have four extra sets of hands!
Okay, now it’s time to cook the dolma and go have a glass of wine to relax.
Fill the pot about three quarters of the way with chicken broth. Add two tablespoons of butter on top.
Place a heavy ceramic plate on top of the vegetables.
Then put a rock on top of the plate. A clean rock.
The rock and the plate will keep everything nice and compact, so the rice doesn’t expand and undo all that hardwork of rolling.
Cover with a lid. Let cook over low heat for about one hour. I think we ended up letting the pots go for about one hour and fifteen minutes because there was too much liquid still in the pot. So she took off the lid for about fifteen minutes or so and let the extra moisture escape.
And then, after the chopping and the mixing and the rolling and the rolling and the rolling and the stuffing and the hour of the simmering and the smell wafting through the house…
You sit down with a heaping plate
and a drink
And you eat dolma!
Look, everyone is happy when they eat dolma!
Open up and say yum!