Saturday, July 21, 2012

Recipes // Koupepia (stuffed grape leaves)

I absolutely love Cypriot and Greek food! Our family has been long-time friends with the Panayiotous, a beautiful part-Cypriot family that we have adopted as an extension to our own family. Every time I go to their house there is an endless supply of joy, love, laughter…and really good food!

This is one of their recipes I learned to make long ago. It’s a traditional Cypriot recipe that really can be a meal in one. The leaves are stuffed with meat and rice with savory seasoning and lemon sauce. 

I recently made a batch for a potluck at church and many people liked them – but thankfully there was enough left over for me enjoy during lunch for the next few days. ;-) I usually pair them with some fruit for a quick and healthy lunch.

60-70 fresh or tinned vine leaves
2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley
2 Tbsp. finely chopped onions
1 Tbsp. finely chopped mint or 1/2 Tbsp. dry mint
1 cup ripe tomato, finely chopped
1 kilo ground meat (I think that's roughly 2lbs -- traditionally made with a pork & veal mix, but I use beef)
1/2 cup rice
white of 2 eggs
juice of 1 lemon
meat broth or water as desired

For the sauce:
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. butter
2 egg yolks
2 cups hot meat broth
juice of 2 lemons

1. Wash the vine leaves and put them into boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes so they become soft. Then dip them in cold water and set aside.

2. Put the ground meat, chopped onions, tomato, mint, parsley, salt, pepper and the egg whites into a bowl.

3. Wash the rice and put it into lukewarm water for approximately 5 minutes. Drain the rice and mix well with the lemon juice. Add the rice to the meat mixture and knead well. (Yes, both rice and meat are uncooked at this point).

4. Open the vine leaves one by one and put about 1 Tbsp of the meat mixture near the edge of the leaf (the actual amount will vary depending on the size of the leaf). Wrap it well starting with the part where the mixture is and rolling the leaf as you roll coins, remembering to fold the ends so the mixture does not fall out. 

Getting ready to roll the leaf.

5. Put the stuffed vine leaves in rows in a pan. Cover with a heavy soup plate and add enough broth or water just to cover them. Simmer for 40 minutes.

Rolled up in the pan before covering with broth.

6. Now prepare the sauce. Beat the egg yolks with the lemon juice. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and gradually add the flour stirring at the same time until it becomes a thick cream. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the meat broth and stir until mixture is a smooth, thin sauce. Pour the sauce into the egg mixture, stir and heat for another 3 minutes. When koupepia are cooked, pour the sauce over them and serve hot.

Prep time: 45 min             Total time: 1.5 hr              Makes: 60-70 pieces