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Rolo me Abelophylla: Meat, Rice & Cheese Loaf in Grape Leaves

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Photo of Greek Meat, Rice & Cheese Loaf in Grape Leaves

Meat, Rice & Cheese Loaf in Grape Leaves

N. Gaifyllia

In Greek: ρολό με αμπελόφυλλα, say: roh-LOH meh ah-beh-LOH-fee-lah

Grab a tube pan (about 10 to 12 cup capacity) and this recipe for Meat, Rice & Cheese Loaf in Grape Leaves will produce a great looking and delicious dish, a wreath shape that is a beautiful buffet, holiday, or special occasion centerpiece.

The meat, rice, and cheese filling is encased in grape leaves (which add a fabulous taste as well). Fill the center with extra meat filling, condiments, or nothing at all!

Serves 8.

For more details, see this recipe for Meat, Rice & Cheese Loaf in Grape Leaves with step by step photos.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • TO PREPARE GRAPE LEAVES
  • About 7 ounces (200 gr) of grape leaves (jarred, * see note below), blanched
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • ----------
  • FOR THE MEAT FILLING
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 1/4 pounds (1 kg) of ground beef
  • 1 bunch of fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1 rounded tablespoon of finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup of dry white wine or Vermouth
  • 1 cup of medium grain rice, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup of boiling water
  • 7 ounces (200 gr) of finely crumbled feta cheese
  • 7 ounces (200 gr) of grated kefalograviera cheese
  • 5 ounces (140 gr) of grated graviera cheese
  • ----------
  • FOR COOKING
  • a little olive oil for brushing the pan

Preparation:

* Note About Grape Leaves: If using fresh grape leaves or leaves already prepared for cooking, a smaller quantity can be used. Depending on the size of the tube pan, 20 - 30 leaves should be enough.

About Cheeses: Greek feta is readily available. Substitutes for kefalograviera include pecorina toscano, pecorino romano, aged myzithra, and (lastly) parmesan. Substitute for graviera is gruyere.

Blanch the Grape Leaves (if needed)

Bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a large pot, add juice of 1/2 lemon and 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Carefully unroll the leaves (do not separate them). Turn off the heat and place leaves in the hot water for 3 minutes. Remove leaves, place them in a bowl and cover with cold water. When cooled, drain in a colander.

Note: It is not unusual for many of the outer leaves in a jar or can to be damaged, or to tear while using. Set these aside to use later in the recipe.

Make the Filling

Preheat olive oil in a deep skillet or pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion and sauté until translucent. Add ground beef and brown completely, breaking the meat into very small pieces as it cooks. Stir in dill, mint, salt, pepper, and the 1/4 cup of white wine or Vermouth. When liquids resume a boil, add 1 cup of medium grain rice and 1/4 cup of boiling water. Stir to mix well and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently to keep the mixture from sticking to the pan as the rice absorbs the liquid. Remove pot from the heat and stir in cheeses until thoroughly mixed in.

Make the Loaf

Lightly brush the interior of the pan with olive oil. Use a paper towel to remove any excess that may drip down into the bottom.

Lay grape leaves in a single overlapping layer around the bottom of the pan. Add a second and third layer, working up the sides of the pan, and hanging out the sides (and in the center opening). Use leaves that are whole and without any damage for the bottom layer (which will show on the top); torn leaves can be used on the inner layers.

Preheat oven to 390°F (200°C).

Spoon the filling into the leaf lining, resisting any temptation to pat it down. Level it off along the top.

Fold the grape leaves in over the filling and tuck in. If there are gaps, use more leaves to cover, tucking the edges inside the pan. Sprinkle the top with water, about 3-4 handfuls, and bake at 390°F (200°C) for 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Place a serving dish over the loaf, invert, and release the loaf.

Yield: serves 8

Decorating the wreath: Reserve some filling and place in the center of the cooked loaf, and add colorful garnishes. Lemon is a traditional taste with grape leaf recipes (photo).

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