Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Yiayia's Stuffed Grape Leaves

I have eaten many different type of Stuffed Grape Leaves in all my years and many people make them with odd ingredients or flavorless. Yiayia means Grandma. My Yiayia would be a housewife all her life so she had perfected the flavor and the texture along with the cooking of the Grape Leaves.
She would take pride in every batch that she would make it would be to our expectations. Growing up in a family with four boys it was a challenge some days! Yiayia cooked daily and when she cooked those Grape Leaves for those special occasions, I personally ate at least 3-4 out of the pot even before being served. As good as they were I had to be careful not to eat too many because as a Greek tradition, you cannot leave any food in your plate because it does not look good on the cook.
The way I cook my Stuffed Grape Leaves are in a oven pan, because they cook all even. There is only one layer which does not make the bottom layer of rice inside real mushy and the top real firm. The best grape leave to use for wrapping is either imported from Turkey or grown in California. They cannot be big leaves because they will be stringy
trying to eat them. I start with ground Lamb, ground chuck, diced up onions, peppers, and spices like dill, pepper and salt. When wrapped and the pan add some lemon to the
boiling water, it gives it an extra tang. Depending on your oven, on 350 degrees it take about 1 hour to cook. When serving must be topped with a lemon dill sauce. It gives that extra punch to the Grape Leave and makes them real tasty!

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