Dolmathes (Stuffed Grape Leaves) with Lemon Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup Olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 lb lean ground lamb
1/2 cup Short-grain rice
1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped (preferred) OR 1 tbs dried dill weed
1/2 cup Pine nuts
1/4 cup water
2 Tbs tomato paste
Freshly ground pepper
Salt (if fresh leaves are used)
1 jar (1 qt) grape leaves in brine, well rinsed, OR about 4 dozen fresh grape leaves, blanched in boiling water 2 to 3 minutes, until pliable
1/4 cup rich chicken broth
3 tbs fresh lemon juice

Heat oil in large skillet. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add meat, stirring to break into pieces. Add rice, dill, pine nuts, water and tomato paste. Season to taste with pepper and salt (if necessary). Cook over medium heat until water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. In a large Dutch Oven or soup pot, cover bottom with a single layer of grape leaves. Stuff remaining leaves until you run out of meat mixture as follows: With shiny side of leaf down, cover palm of hand with the base of the leaf toward wrist and tip of leaf toward middle finger. Put a generous teaspoonful of meat onto leaf. Starting at base, roll leaf over meat mixture, and fold sides of leaf in, as an envelope; wrap fairly tightly. Continue to roll until you have a little roll, and tuck tip of leaf underneath to prevent its unrolling during the cooking. Place in pan, tip side down.

Add broth to cover top layer. If you have any leftover leaves, cover the Dolmathes. Place a heavy plate upside down on top of rolls. Press down. Cover and cook Dolmathes over medium heat until rice is tender, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle lemon juice over all, and cook about 5 minutes longer. Let cool to room temperature, or chill overnight. Arrange on a platter with thinly sliced lemon rounds tucked here and there for garnish and extra lemony flavour. Spoon lemon sauce over Dolmathes, or place it in a bowl in center of platter to dip the rolls into.


2 egg yolks, whisked in non-aluminum sauce pan until frothy
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tsp cornstarch
1 cup chicken stock

Add lemon juice, cornstarch, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, to whisked egg yolks. Mix until fully incorporated. Slowly whisk in broth; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens. Do NOT boil! Keep warm over hot water. Dip Dolmathes into sauce if serving as an appetizer, or spoon sauce over Dolmathes arranged on a platter.