Monday, October 3, 2011

Stuffed Grape Leaves Stew Recipe

If the title of this post didn't scare you off, you might be in for a treat...

  There is a Middle Eastern or Mediterranean food that my family, and extended family, has grown to love.  It is named and pronounced several different ways by different cultures.  The Americanized term is "stuffed grape leaves".  The closest match to the name we use on the corresponding Wikipedia page is:

The Assyrians of Iraq may either call it dolma or yaprekh which is the Syriac term for stuffed grape leaves

We call it ( Yeb - a - det ).  No matter what you call it, it is grape leaves stuffed with a seasoned mixture of meat and rice or vegetables and rice then boiled in lemon juice.  Needless to say, it is quite tedious to prepare.  The cooking part is easy, but stuffing and rolling the leaves takes time.  I personally can devour 30 or so in one sitting.

Fortunately, one of my impatient cousins asked, "Why roll them?  Why not throw it all in a pot and be done?"  In the process, he created Yeb - a - det Stew or Yeb Stew.  For those of us who prefer our grape leaves saturated in lemon, the stew is perfect.  It takes a few minutes to prepare and only about 15 minutes to cook.  My Mom (who according to my friends can make shit taste good!) was kind enough to type up her recipe.  It calls for ground beef but you can use turkey or pork instead.  Actually, the proper meat to use is lamb.  If you're lucky enough to have hand picked leaves, they are better than the jarred ones.

  • ½ cup Carolina Rice
  • ¾ lb. ground beef
  • 1 cup Lemon Juice
  • Grape Leaves (use the Grape Leaves from the supermarket in a jar, usually the brand is Orlando – use at least 10 leaves (more if you like) rinse the leaves and squeeze dry – cut stems off and cut up in small pieces
  • 1 ½ to 2 Tablespoons Salt – or a little more to taste
  • 1 Teaspoon Allspice
  • ½ Teaspoon Garlic Salt
  • Water

Put the rice in a large bowl.  To rinse the starch off the rice, cover the rice with water, swish the rice around, carefully drain the water off the rice, repeat once or twice until the water is pretty clear.  Drain the water off the rice before mixing with the meat.

In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, the rinsed rice, 1 ½ Tablespoons salt, 1 Teas. Allspice, ½ cup water.  Mix all the ingredients together until rice and meat look evenly mixed.  (If mixture is too sticky – add a little more water and mix) 

In a medium size pot, add the meat and rice mixture – on medium heat brown the meat and with a fork, break the meat up until it is in small chunks.  Keep moving the meat and rice around to brown on all sides – when there is no more raw meat showing drain the meat mixture in a strainer –( with paper towels or a paper plate under it to catch the excess fat.)

Put the mixture back into the pot – add a cup Lemon Juice and enough water to cover the meat by an inch -  add the cut up grape leaves, bring to a boil, add garlic salt, and/or regular salt to taste.  Be careful not to add too much salt.  Taste the broth to see if there is enough salt.

Lower the heat, cover the pot and cook on a slow boil until rice is cooked – about 15 mins.  If the liquid boils down you can add more lemon juice or more water.  Try not to overcook – rice will get too mushy.


  1. Hey great idea. I've got a jar of grape leaves sitting their waiting for a bunch of work. Now I'll try the easy way.

  2. AstroGremlin, let me know how it turns out...