Thrown in to the general European mix of our families is Claire’s Armenian grandmother. She introduced Claire to an entirely different type of cooking, and through Claire I was then introduced to these foods!
Today we’re going to make her grandmother’s “go to” Armenian dish, Dolmas! These are peppers and cabbage rolls stuffed with meat and rice … so basically deliciousness in handy packages.
Ready to do this?
You’ll need the following:
- 1lb ground beef (or lamb) – we’re actually using a mix of both here
- 4 large red peppers
- 1 green cabbage
- 1 cup chopped green onions
- 1 bunch of parsley
- 1 cup long grain rice
- 1 large can of tomato juice
- 1 clove of garlic (minced)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp Arabic spice (white pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, allspice, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger & corriander) – we got this from Adonis market here in Montreal
Start by chopping the parsley. Watch your fingers and don’t look in the camera!
Okay, that’s better
Once you are done, get a large mixing bowl
Add the parsley to the mixing bowl
Add the meat
Add the rice, onions, garlic, cumin and spices
Mix all these ingredients well
Should now look like this
Place your cabbage in a large pot of water and let it boil … we’ll come back to it later
Grab your peppers and cut off any long stems
Which one has the ball? Guess for a dollar, win it all!
You need to cut the caps off the peppers now
Using a small paring knife, cut on a 45 degree angle (so cap can be replaced and not fall in) all the way around the pepper
Gently pull up to remove the cap
Cut away any excess on the bottom of the cap and clean out the inside of the pepper
Replace the cap and move on to the next pepper. Continue until they are all done
Grab some of the mixture and loosely fill the pepper. The rice in the mix will expand and if you have not left enough room, the pepper will rupture during cooking
Repeat this process until all the peppers have been filled
Now place your peppers in a pot just deep enough to make sure they are covered. (This pot is actually from Claire’s grandmother … we’ll give some more stories about it later!)
Time to make some cabbage rolls!
Go get that cabbage from the boiling water
Cut carefully at the base of cabbage where the leaves attach so they can be removed from the core. Look at me! A face for radio!
If the cabbage has boiled long enough the leaves should pull off with ease. Once they are no longer coming off easily return the cabbage to boiling water for a few minutes, then repeat the process. You’ll want to do this until you have about 10-12 leaves (or until the leaves have become very small)
Take a large, intact leaf.
You’ll want to cut off the bottom about an inch up from where it attached to the core. Cut a straight line and be careful not to puncture the leaf anywhere else. You want these intact for rolling.
Place mix near the bottom of the leaf. Leave a bit of room so you can fold the bottom over. Press the mixture into a log type shape and fold the bottom over. Fold in the sides of the leaf. Like the pepper, make sure not to pack the rolls too much, as the mix is going to expand and it may break the roll while cooking.
This should have created a little pocket with the mix inside. Now roll forward.
Make sure when it’s done to place the roll with the seam down so it doesn’t unravel
Continue doing this until you have used all the mix.
Take the remaining pieces you cut away to line the bottom of the pan. There should be some whole leaves still left over when you’re done
Add your cabbage rolls. Make sure to have the seam on the bottom or it will unravel while cooking
Place them rather tightly so they help each other say intact. Make a few layers if needed.
Put in all the rolls except for the smallest one. This is going to be our ‘tester’!
Pour the can of juice evenly over the entire pot. Make sure to pour some inside each pepper so it wont get dry as it cooks. Add some lemon juice (you can also add some fresh mint at this point)
Add water until the liquid is almost level with the bottoms of the pepper caps
About this full
Now slice any remaining cabbage leaves down the ‘spine’
Take the leaves and cover the entire pot
Place that ‘tester’ roll in the middle and cover it with a couple remaining leaves. Place the pot on the stove top.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. This is going to cook for about 45 minutes.
This little dent in our lid is actually there on purpose. Claire’s grandfather did this to let the steam escape! This pot was actually one of the only pots they owned when they moved to Canada and were sent to work in Northern Ontario. They used it not only as a pot, but as a refrigerator by leaving it filled and placing it outside in the snow!
Okay, it’s been 45 minutes … is it ready?
This is why we made a ‘tester’ roll!
Peel back the top leaves to expose the ‘tester’
Remove the ‘tester’ and place it on a plate …
Now for garnish, we create what Claire and I lovingly call fancy sauce … it’s just sour cream with ketchup mixed in!
Put a pepper and couple of cabbage rolls on a plate. Don’t forget the fancy sauce!
So there you have our Stuffed Peppers and Cabbage Rolls (Dolmas)