Really, the answer to "how do you make Yaprakes?" is: "What? You cook it!" Honestly, this is the answer that my grandmother (and her sister, who taught me to make spinach pies) would give when asking for a recipe. After watching her (and my own mother) perform this culinary miracle, I believe I have something that resembles a recipe. Sadly, there are no amounts listed here, as everything is pretty much "to taste." Experimentation is the key, and you get to eat the rejects!
Because auspeople demands it:
Because auspeople demands it:
- brown a small finely choped onion in olive oil
- add a bunch of ground beef and cook it in the oil/onion pan
- pour out the grease
- add olive oil to remoisten, as well as for flavor (I love olive oil, so my yaprakes may be a bit oily for some people)
- add onion powder, garlic powder, white pepper, tomato paste, and dried dill weed to taste (use more dill than you think you need)
- stir in and cook a bit, adjusting seasonings as necessary
- add uncooked rice (I like a higher rice to meat ratio than drangelo, I think about 1/2 cup per pound of meat is about right, but, like I said, it's all a matter of personal preference.)
- stir in and cook for a few minutes
- remove from heat and let cool until it will not hurt to handle the mixture
- rinse off grape leaves under cool running water, gently separating leaves so that they do not tear
- place a spoonful of the filling onto dull side of leaf and fold it up or roll it up and place on the bottom of a large dutch over (olive oil on the bottom to prevent sticking)
- pile up the rolls in layers, seam side down so that they will not open up during cooking
- when all the filling is used up, or you have run out of leaves, place a heavy ceramic dish upside down over the top of the pile to keep them tight, and fill the pot with water until it just covers the top of the dish
- simmer partially covered over medium heat until all the water is gone (I tend to cover them completely until they reach the level of simmer I want, and then move the cover a bit to release the steam. I continue to check occasionally to see if I need to cover more or less.)
- if you are married to drangelo, allow some of the leaves to burn on the bottom
- Some people put a layer of leaves on the bottom of the pot, as well as between the layers. I scoff at this behavior as it (1) keeps you from having more leaves and therefor more yaprakes, and (2) keeps you from having the delicious slightly burned ones on the bottom of the pot.
- Dont put too much filling in each leaf, and don't roll them too tightly, as the rice needs room to expand as it absorbs the water.
- Keep the partially torn leaves and leaf pieces to cover any holes in other "mostly perfect" leaves, so that you can use as many leaves as possible. Sometimes I create entire leaves out of several leaf pieces. In my head I refer to these as Frankenstein-Yaprakes.
- When drangelo and I were cooking machines, and had much higher metabolisms, we would add a small piece of feta to the meat filling inside each folded leaf. Heaven! But not kosher! (Don't tell my grandmother.)