This yummy dish has become a tradition on my mom's side. She makes them every holiday. Along with her delicious stuffed mushrooms and my Mem's date squares, they've become a staple at our family gatherings. The leaves are tough, so they need to be cooked well. I think they're best at room temperature, slathered in the lemon dip. Enjoy!
Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades)
1 sm onion chopped
1 lb ground lamb
¾ cup rice raw
1 tsp dry mint, plus more for sprinkling
Salt and pepper
1 jar grape leaves
1 cup lemon juice
¼ cup of olive oil
Preheat oven to 350. Cook the rice according to package directions and let cool enough to touch. Add the rice to the raw lamb; you may have too much rice -- you want a little more of the lamb than the rice, but almost even in amount. Add the onion, mint, and salt and pepper.
Unroll and rinse your grape leaves. Carefully, because they rip easily, peal one leaf off the pile and place it flat on the counter in front of you, shiny side down. Add about 1 rounded tablespoon of the lamb mixture (a bit more or less depending on how big the leaves are) to the stem end of the leaf, spreading it out to resemble a log (the goal is to make them look like little cigars or sausages). Roll up one full roll, then fold in the sides. Finish rolling up and place tip side down in a baking dish with a cover (alternately, you can use foil to seal it securely). You want to layer them close together, but don’t pack them too much, because the liquid needs to get all the way to the bottom. Once the dish is filled, pour ½ cup lemon juice and ¼ cup oil over the rolls. There should be enough room on the top for the liquid to boil a little, so don’t fill it to the top. Sprinkle mint all over the top of the leaves and cover. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes. You can serve them hot or room temperature.
In a blender, add the rest of the lemon juice. Turn on medium-high and slowly add the olive oil to emulsify. That way the dip won’t separate. Serve the rolls with the lemon dip.