This is a recipe that has been a favorite in the Morrison family. The funny thing is, we’ve been growing grapes here on the farm for the past five years. Then one day, my sister-in-law asked me, have you made stuffed grape leaves from your grape vines? [head slap] DUH. I never thought about that. So ever since she mentioned that, when the grape vines are full of leaves, I look at the leaves as part of the harvest as well as the grapes. So here is the very basic recipe for making stuffed grape leaves.
1 lb. of your favorite ground meat (beef, turkey, venison, lamb, chicken, veal, or anything else.) For this post I’m using turkey, but my favorite is either lamb or venison.
3/4 cup uncooked rice
2 tsp salt
2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
1 tsp course ground black pepper
30 grape leaves
1 whole lemon
In a medium bowl, mix together the raw ground meat, uncooked rice, salt, pepper, and lemon pepper.
Once all of the ingredients have been evenly mixed together, then it’s ready to be rolled into the grape leaves. Place the grape leaf with the vein side up/smooth side down, then place a small portion of the mixed meat in the wide part of the leaf. This is where a little calculation comes into play, as you’ll need to estimate the appropriate amount of meat for each leaf so it comes out even in the end. I don’t have a specific recommendation for this, so you’ll just have to make a judgement call.
Then begin to roll the leaf from the bottom, fold it up over the meat, enclose it on the sides, and roll it up to the top.
As each leaf is rolled, then place them in a pan with the outside edge down. Since these leaves are really sturdy and stiff, they will easily unroll, so be sure they are securely placed with the edges down.
When all stuffed leaves are placed in the pan, then fill the pan with water, just enough to cover the leaves, just as they begin to float. Not too much water or else the the top leaves will begin to unroll when they are floating. Then slice the lemon into quarters, squeeze the juice into the water and place the lemons rinds on the top of the water.
Cook over high heat until it comes to a boil, then cover and simmer on low heat for about 30 to 45 minutes, until the meat is done and the rice is soft.
When they’re done, the grape leaves are tender, encasing a meat-and-rice meatball with a slight lemony flavor. Each batch will be different, and you can change up the recipe as you see fit. More salt… more lemon… other spices…. different meat. Whatever you prefer, have some fun with it. And I hope you enjoy this as much as the Morrison family has over the decades.