Long story short – it was one of the most delicious evenings of my life. Aunt Paula is my Syrian cooking muse and I will always remember these amazing culinary adventures that explore our heritage. In the coming weeks, I plan to feature several of Aunt Paula’s recipes. Of course these are all my interpretation of her recipes because real cooks do not measure or weigh or write down recipes. We use a pinch of that, a pinch of this.
And without fail, no matter how perfect and delicious the food turns out, Aunt Paula will never eat a single item during the meal. Nothing will ever taste right and nothing is ever as good as it should be. Oddly enough, when I prepare these dishes they never taste as good as Aunt Paula’s and I’m rarely that hungry by the time dinner is ready. I’m hoping that means it came out perfectly.
- 1 Jar Grape Leaves Normally weight is 2lbs
- 1 lb Ground Sirloin
- 1 c Long Grain White Rice Rinsed
- 1 Tbs Crushed Garlic
- 1 Tsp Salt
- ¼ Tsp Pepper
- 2 Lemons Juiced
- 2 Celery Stalks cut into 3 - optional
- 5 Cabbage Leaves optional
- 2 Tbs Dried Mint
Line a large pot with celery ribs and loose cabbage leaves.
Rinse off grape leaves and place on a plate.
In a large bowl, combine ground meat, rice, the juice of 1 lemon, garlic, salt and pepper.
One grape leave at a time, place the leaf flat on a plate and add 1 tbs. of meat mixture near stem.
Form meat into long cigar shape then roll the grape leave starting at the stem all the way to the top. No need to fold in sides.
Line rolls in pot, alternating direction with each layer, until the pot is filled ¾ of the way or you’ve used all your leaves.
Cover grapes leaves with a small plate turned upside down to keep them from moving and to weigh it down.
Add chicken broth to the edge of where the leaves end and add juice of second lemon and dried mint.
Cover pot with lid and bring to a simmer.
Reduce heat to low and simmer an additional 20-30 minutes or until rice is fully cooked. Serve with pita bread and plain yogurt.
Makes 45 Grape Leaves