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  • Writer's pictureDawn Bly

Eating from the Backyard/Edible Landscaping--Chicken Dolmas

Those who come on the farm tours to check out how we do our edible landscaping, our "Eating from the Backyard" posts are for you! We eat something that came from our Olathe suburban plot 365 days a year. (We started at zero days a year 14 years ago.) Remember, before putting something into your mouth, you should make sure that you are confident that it has been raised in a safe manner that your system can tolerate.

Dolma/Dolmata packets resting on a serving platter.
Chicken Dolmas/Dolmatas

The picture above is of our chicken dolmas (stuffed grape leaves). We feasted on them for New Year's Eve! Here is what we used from our pantry, freezer, or fresh from the garden:

1. Ground chicken (a friend of ours with acreage grows the birds, we help to process).

2. Parsley was fresh from the garden--Yes, our parsley patches are STILL green, even outside the low tunnels! Parsley is a cool-weather plant that just keeps giving and giving and will grow in just about any light condition. We use it fresh, dried and frozen. I definitely recommend starting a patch of your own!

3. Dill--also a cool weather plant that survives winter in our area with a touch of assistance. This time, however, I was lazy and just used dried from the pantry. Fresh may be substituted in the recipe below.

4. Grape Leaves--harvested from our living privacy fence each spring. I was rooting around in the freezer and found a container of blanched grape leaves in the back and thought "Aha! We shall have dolmas for New Year's Eve and use these up!" (You may substitute pickled grape leaves from the store.)

5. Stock--to steam the packets. Made from bits of veggies and bones and simmered for 24+ hours in the crockpot. Homemade soup stock beats commercial stock any day of the week and is extremely simple to make. It was the first thing I taught myself how to make when I moved to Kansas City. 

We enjoyed dipping our dolmas in a homemade hoisin sauce!  Yum!

Chicken Dolmas:

This is a reasonable approximation of what we did to make the New Year's Eve dolmas. The original recipe that we riffed this meal from uses lamb and a few other items. The original recipe may be found in the Joy of Cooking, 75th Anniversary Edition. I have found this book to be a great resource!

1 1/2 cups ground chicken

1 1/2 cups finely diced onion

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon finely ground dill

1/2 cup cooked white rice

25 blanched, frozen grape leaves, thawed

2 cups chicken, vegetable or beef broth or water

3 tablespoons olive oil

Combine the first five ingredients in a bowl. Lay out the grape leaves with pointy ends away from you. Stuff each whole grape leaf with a rounded tablespoon of the mixture and roll each leaf up like you might imagine rolling up a cigar. Place packets seam side down in a single layer in the steam chamber/container of a steamer (Because I try to limit my kitchen gadgets, I utilize my pressure cooker and use a different lid that will not seal). Put broth or water in bottom of the pot, but do not cover the packets with the liquid--they are to be steamed, not boiled. Drizzle olive oil over the packets. Weight with a heatproof plate. Cover the pot and simmer over low heat until cooked, approximately 30 minutes--add more liquid, if necessary, to prevent from boiling dry. Serve hot or cold. We dip in hoisin sauce, but they are delicious with or without a dip of your choice.

We enjoyed these with a side dish of freshly-harvested, sauteed chicory. It grew in one of our beds where our u-pick customers pick daffodils, lilies, cilantro and other beautiful things during the flower u-pick season. Delicious!

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