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I believe my recipe happens to be the best lamb stuff grape leaves recipe because it draws influence from all cultures combining the best parts of each recipe. Stuffed grape leaves are a popular dish in Lebanese, Mediterranean, and Greek cultures. The Lebanese preparation often uses large amounts of cinnamon and allspice, while the Greek and Mediterranean preparation includes an abundance of fresh herbs like mint and dill. I’ve found that reducing the amount of cinnamon and including mint and dill, creates the perfect blend of both recipes.
I also prefer the use of lamb over beef which is more traditional and really gives you that authentic flavor. If you cannot find lamb, you can substitute the lamb for lean ground beef. In many greek preparations, they omit the meat altogether and just use rice. In this case, I would add about 1 tomato peeled, seeded, and diced if you will only be using rice. By adding meat, however, this dish really is a meal. I recommend serving your grape leaves with a medley of squash or a nice greek salad.
Ingredients for making the best Lamb Stuffed Grape Leaves Recipe:
- 1lb lamb
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 jar brined grape leaves
- 1 cup chicken broth
- garlic powder, fresh dill, fresh mint, cinnamon, salt, pepper
- fresh lemon juice
How to make lamb stuffed grape leaves:
Traditionally grape leaves are typically cooked in a pot over the stovetop for about 30-45 minutes with a plate on top to keep them from moving. However, the easiest preparation is to cook these in the Instant Pot, which only takes 12 minutes. You do not need to put anything on the top to hold them down!
First, you want to combine your lamb, rice, seasoning, and fresh herbs. Blend well in a bold with your hands. Then carefully remove your grape leaves and begin separating them. Put the larger ones to the side for your grape leaves and any small or broken leaves you will use to line the bottom of your Instant Pot.
Next, you want to cut the tough stem off which is at the very bottom of your grape leaf. I basically cut a small square out at the bottom of my leaves as shown above. Then scoop a small amount of the mixture into your hands and roll into a sausage shape. Place this at the bottom of your grape leaf. You do not want to overstuff your grape leaves so a heaping tablespoon is a good measurement.
Then you’ll want to fold your grape leaves by folding in the two bottom flaps, then both sides, and roll them up from the bottom. If you have a few leaves that are too small you can layer them over each other and use two leaves. Finally, line the pan with small or broken leaves and place your grape leaves on top, changing the direction on the second layer. Pour 1 cup of chicken broth and your lemon juice over the leaves and set on the high pressure cook setting for 12 minutes.
Greek Lemon Sauce Recipe (Avgolemono)
To accompany the grape leaves I like to make a delicious greek lemon sauce called Avgolemono. If you’ve ever had traditional Greek Lemon Soup, this recipe is very similar to how you would prepare the soup. This sauce also makes a great addition to serve over fresh fish, especially with the addition of capers.
Greek Lemon Sauce (Avgolemono) Ingredients & Instructions
- reserved chicken broth from cooking grape leaves
- lemon juice
- egg yolks
To begin making your Greek lemon sauce, you first want to separate 3 egg yolks into a bowl. Reserve all the remaining chicken broth from your grape leaves and add an additional 1/4 cup of fresh-squeezed lemon juice and 1/2 tsp of salt. While your chicken broth is still nice and warm, quickly whisk it in with your egg yolks. Then add to a pot and whisk continuously on low heat for about 5 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken. Be sure to pay attention to not overheat your sauce or you’ll end up with a lemon egg scramble.
Lamb Stuffed Grape Leaves (Lebanese, Mediterranean)
- 1 lb ground lamb (no need to pre-cook)
- 1 cup basmatic rice dry (not pre-cooked)
- 1 jar grape leaves
- 1 cup chicken broth
- ¼ cup lemon juice fresh squeezed
- ¼ cup dill fresh
- ¼ cup mint fresh
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 ½ tsp salt pink Himalayan
Greek Lemon Sauce (Avgolemono)
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 3 whole egg yolks
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup chicken broth reserved from cooking the grape leaves
- First you will combine your lamb, rice, seasoning, and herbs into a bowl. Then remove the grape leaves from the jar and select the largest ones. Keep the small leaves and torn leaves to line your Instant Pot.Then on a cutting board place one leaf and remove the tough stem at the bottom with scissors. Place a tablespoon amount of meat in your hands, roll into a sausage shape, and place at the base of your leaf.
- Fold the two bottom flaps up. Then fold in the left and right sides of your grape leaf and roll up from the center.
- Line your Instant Pot with the smaller and torn leaves. Then layer the grape leaves in your Instant Pot, changing directions for each layer. Add in your chicken broth and lemon juice. Finally, set your Insant Pot on high pressure for 12 minutes and quick release when finished.
- Reserve the leftover chicken broth from cooking your grape leaves and add another 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 1/2 tsp of salt. In a different bowl, seperate 3 egg yolks.Then slowly whisk your warm chicken broth into the egg yolks. Place in a pot back onto the stove and whisk constantly on low heat for about 5 minutes until your sauce thickens.
Lamb SubstitutionsYou can substitute ground meat or just use rice mixed with diced tomatoes
You Don't Need to Pre-cook Your LambI received a question about this earlier. There is no need to pre-cook your lamb. The fat will cook down and drain into the broth as it is simmering. I recommend using a fat separator when you are adding some of the broth to make your sauce. They are great to have on hand for any homemade sauce or gravy.
If you are a fan of Mediterranean cuisine these are truly the best lamb stuffed grape leaves I’ve made. I make these all the time to serve as appetizers, a side dish, or even as a main course. They also freeze incredibly well and make great leftovers! This dish is not only delicious by healthy and low in calories while still being incredibly filling.
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