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STUFFED CABBAGE LEAVES

(Lahanodolmades)


INGREDIENTS:


METHOD:

This is the most enticing of the winter meals, and a real favourite of mine. However it is time-consuming to make. If you can get some help, it will make the task sorter.


  1. Soak the rice in cold water for 10 minutes, then drain, rinse it under cold water and drain again. Core the cabbages and strip off the outer leaves. Rinse these and set aside. Peel off the inner leaves, cutting off more of the core as you proceed. When you reach the hard heart, stop peeling. Set the cabbage hearts aside.
  2. Rinse the leaves and cabbage hearts in cold water, then drain them. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and blanch the leaves in batches for 1-2 minutes, until they become just pliable. Remove with a draining spoon and place them in a colander. Put in the cabbage hearts and let them boil for slightly longer. Drain.
  3. Prepare the stuffing by combining the minced meat, rice, .onion, egg and fresh herbs in a bowl. Mix in half the olive oil and a generous amount of seasoning. Cut the larger leaves of the cabbage in half and trim any hard cores and veins. Place about 15m1/1 tbsp of the stuffing at one end of a leaf, fold the end of the leaf over so it looks like a short fat cigar, then fold in the sides and roll up fairly tightly to make a neat package.
  4. Carefully strip as many leaves as possible from the blanched cabbage heart and stuff them individually. Leave the inner heart intact, but open the leaves on the top, and put some stuffing in it, too.
  5. Line a large heavy pan with the uncooked outer leaves. Layer the dolmades in the pan, packing .them tightly together. Season each layer as you go, then drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top and scatter over small knobs of the butter
  6. Invert a small heatproof plate on top of the last layer of dolmades. Pour in enough hot water to just cover the top layer. Cover and cook gently for about 50 minutes. As soon as the dolmades are cooked, tilt the pan, holding the plate down firmly, and empty most of the liquid into a bowl. Let it cool slightly.
  7. Mix the corn flour to a cream with a little water. Whisk the eggs in another bowl, then add the lemon juice and the corn flour mixture and whisk again. Continue to whisk, gradually adding tablespoons of the hot cooking liquid from the dolmades. As soon as the liquid has all been added, pour the sauce over the dolmades and shake the pan gently to distribute it evenly. Return the pan to a very gentle heat and cook for 3 minutes to thicken the sauce, rotating the pan occasionally.
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