1 LB Ground Lamb (You can substitute for ground beef, turkey, chicken, etc.)
1 16oz Jar Grape Leaves in Brine (drained and rinsed)
1 C. Short grain rice (Preferably sushi rice or Arborio rice)
1ea. large yellow onion (minced)
1 t. Ground All spice
1 t. Ground Cumin
1 T. Fresh Mint chopped
1 T. Fresh Dill Chopped
2 T. Fresh Parsley chopped
1 clove Fresh garlic (minced)
1 t. Dried crushed oregano
2 C. Chicken Stock or Water
EVOO (preferably Greek)
First, Rinse the brine from the grape leaves. Place them in a colander and let the drip dry.
You could pat them dry with paper towels, but you'll run the risk of tearing them up.
The less that you handle them the better. Cut the hard stems off the bottom. We don't want to eat those.
Set the Grape leaves aside. If you have any torn grape leaves, or any that seem just too small to bother working with, keep them. We'll use them later.
Add the onion, garlic, and herbs to a food processor. Add about a tablespoon of EVOO and blend everything to a well combined paste.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground meat (raw), salt, pepper, herb mixture and mix well. Add the (uncooked) rice and mix until well combined.
Lay a grape leaf (shiny side down) and place a tablespoon of the filling on the bottom end of the leaf, near where you removed the stem.
Fold the stem end of the leaf over the filling. Fold the sides inward and over and roll up snugly like a little mini burrito. But not so tight as the rice will expand as it cooks. Roll and repeat with all the remaining filling and set aside.
Here is where we'll use those scraped grape leaves from earlier. Layer half of them into the bottom of a Dutch oven, or a large pot with a thick heavy bottom. Place the stuffed leaves seam side down, over the bed of scrap leaves. Nestle them in tightly, this will help to keep them from unraveling during the cook.
Drizzle with a little EVOO and season lightly with salt and pepper. If you have more, repeat the process with a second layer. Get them all in where they fit in. Again, drizzle with a little more EVOO and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Next, lay any of the remaining scrap leaves over the top and pour in the Chicken stock or Water. Use stock for more flavor.
Place an inverted plate over the top to weigh everything down and to prevent them from moving around and opening while cooking. Cover with lid and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer and cook about 40-50 minutes or until the rice is cooked.
There may be a little liquid left in the bottom of the pot, that's okay. Just turn off the heat and allow everything to cool for at least 30 minutes or so. All of the rice and the meat will absorb the juices making for a much more flavorful bite.
*This recipe yields a lot of pieces depending upon how much filling you are able to stuff into each leaf. What you don’t serve today you can freeze for another day. Or you can keep them at ready to eat stage. They will keep in the fridge for 5-7 days. You can serve them hot or cold, they taste great either way.
**Whichever ground meat you decide to use, Make sure its lean. You don't want a bunch of fat leaking out of the meat and making for soggy, sloppy rolls.
***Bear in mind when seasoning, that the Grape leaves have been soaking in a salty brine. So season the filling and the cooking liquid lightly throughout preparation.
1 ea. Rack of Lamb
1 C. Fine ground Polenta
1 1⁄2 C . Chicken Stock or Water
1 1⁄2 C. Milk
1/4 c. Heavy Cream
1/4 c. Shredded Parmesan cheese
1 ea. English Cucumber
1 ea. Nutmeg seed
1 T. Fresh Mint chopped
1 T. Fresh Dill Chopped
2 C. Greek strained Yogurt
2 cloves Fresh garlic (minced)
1 ea. Lemon
1 sprig Fresh Rosemary
4 T. Butter
1 ea. Yellow Onion
Grape seed oil
First, Remove your rack of lamb from its packaging and discard. Use a paper towel to blot the lamb dry from any blood or moisture that may be present. Depending upon how much of a fat-cap you have on your rack, you may want to trim a little of that off.
Score your lamb, by using a sharp knife to make diagonal incisions into the fat-cap. Be careful, DO NOT CUT THE MEAT, just the fat. Go again in the opposite direction to create a diamond pattern.
You have two options to do what we call “Frenching” the bones...
Option #1, Find a good sturdy immovable object in your kitchen. Something near your workspace. Tie a lengthy piece (about two feet) of Butchers twine into a knot and anchor around it. I use my kitchen faucet. But if you yank your faucet off the top of your sink and spew water everywhere like the cartoons.
Don’t blame me... Use your best judgement.
Tie the twine firmly around the first bone. While holding the meaty portion of the rack in one hand and the string in the other, pull them away from one another in essence pulling the tissue from the bone.
The bone should come out clean pretty easily. Repeat the process with each bone until all of the bones are clean.
Option #2, Holding the meat portion of the rack in one hand, with the bones pointed down towards
your cutting board. Using a very sharp knife, (Boning knife preferred) Scrape the fatty tissue and film
from each bone so that the rack comes out clean.
Both options take a little time and by the fifth or sixth bone you’ll be a pro.
Next, Rub your rack of lamb all over with the Grapeseed oil. Season liberally with Kosher salt and Fresh cracked Black pepper. Go heavy handed here. Don’t worry it’s a large piece of meat with a lot of fat. It can take it. Set aside and let it adapt to room temperature. Go ahead and clean up your workstation. Let the seasoning begin to work on the meat.
Wash and peel a Cucumber.
Set a Colander into the sink.
Using the large holes on a Cheese grater, grate the cucumber into the Colander.
Sprinkle the shredded cucumber with a pinch of salt.
Cucumbers are full of water and the salt will begin to draw out that moisture.
Let it sit and drain for a while.
Meanwhile, Start your POLENTA.
Dice up half an onion. Mince one clove of garlic. Combine the Chicken Stock and the Milk together into a large container.
On the stovetop, melt the butter in a large sauce pot over medium heat. When
butter melts and starts to bubble, add in the onion, and sweat it down until translucent (about 3
Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute.)
Stir in the Polenta and keep stirring so that it’s good and coated with the butter and let it begin to toast (about 2-3 minutes.)
Add in about half a cup of the Stock and Milk mixture. Be careful, the pot is hot, and the liquid will bubble and splash. Stir vigorously for about 8-10 turns then lower the heat to a very
As the Polenta thickens, add a little more of the liquid (stock and milk), continue to stir.
Again, be very careful, as the Polenta cooks it will burp. And it is very hot, so you definitely don’t want to get any of that on you.
Let it cook. Keep your flame at a very low simmer, adding more liquid little by
little every 3-4 minutes, or as needed. Remember to stir periodically while working on other things.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
Dump all of that grated cucumber into a cheese cloth. Wrap it up and squeeze, squeeze, squeeze. You want to wring out as much of that moisture as possible. When you’ve squeezed out all you can, or all you’re willing to do, add the cucumber to a small mixing bowl. Discard the cheesecloth.
Add the Yogurt to the bowl with the cucumber.
Wash, dry, and chop a few sprigs of Fresh Mint and Dill and add it to the bowl. Mince one clove of Garlic into the mixture.
Squeeze the juice of one lemon into the mixture and stir to thoroughly combine all ingredients.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Dust the top with a light sprinkle of Cayenne pepper. Cover and place into the refrigerator to chill.
I hope you’ve been stirring your Polenta! If you’re using a grill, go and light it now. Oil the grates well
using the grapeseed oil.
Everyone, stir your Polenta.10 – 15 minutes is about all we need. Keep an eye on it.
By this time, we’ve used the majority if not all of the liquid and the Polenta should be nice and smooth.
If it is still a little gritty, add more liquid and continue to cook and stir. When ready, turn off the heat. Stir
in the Parmesan cheese and the heavy cream. The residual heat from the Polenta will melt the cheese
and as you continue to stir, you’ll incorporate the cream. Season with salt and Pepper to taste. Grate in
fresh Nutmeg to your liking, but don’t use too much about 1 teaspoon is good enough. Stir and set
Check on the lamb. BE CAREFUL, the pan is very hot. 400 degrees hot. Carefully remove the pan from
the oven. If you are not seasoned enough to tell temperature by touch. Use an instant read
Thermometer to get an accurate read. Ain’t no shame in it. That’s why they make thermometers.
Carefully move your Cast Iron pan from the stovetop, to your preheated oven. Please be careful, that
pan is very hot. Use a thick kitchen towel to do so.
Griller’s, you’ve got one little sidestep here. Grab a small sauté pan. Get it on the stove over medium
Toss in the remaining butter and let it begin to melt. Give the Rosemary and one Garlic clove a rough chop. Doesn’t need to be pretty, just chop it up and toss it into the melted butter. Swirl the pan to combine everything and soften up the rosemary. When the Garlic is fragrant turn off the heat.
By this time, you should have about all the color and char flavor that you want. And that thang looks amazing, right? But the inside is not quite ready. So, grab a sheet pan, or baking dish or roasting pan, whatever you’ve got handy. Pull the rack from the grill and take it back inside to the kitchen.
Place the rack Fat cap up and pour the butter, garlic, and rosemary over the top. Place the lamb into the oven.
Everyone, stir your Polenta. Depending upon your oven and the altitude where you live and the moisture in your home and so on, and so on, 10 – 15 minutes isabout all we need. Keep an eye on it.
BACK TO THE POLENTA...