My most popular blogpost (by far) is my mother-in-law's recipe for lebanese grape leaves. It's from 2009 and it includes step by step instructions on what to buy and how to make grape leaves. She taught me everything she learned from her mother-in-law (who was from Lebanon). It's a recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation. I am honored to carry on the family tradition.
Over the past 6 years, I've practiced this recipe a lot: holidays, family gatherings, birthdays, and just random times when I needed comfort food. I've learned tricks that speed up the rolling process and I've even cooked grape leaves in a pressure cooker. I stumbled upon the freezing method when I rolled too many one time and needed additional lamb shanks for another pot. I ended up freezing the extra rolled uncooked grape leaves and cooking them on another day. I found this method to work really well. The pot takes a little longer to start simmering, but the cooking time after that, is the same.
To celebrate my father-in-law's 70th birthday, I wanted to make grape leaves for the whole family: 10 adults and many children. I started 3 weeks before and made the grape leaves in batches of 2 lbs of ground lamb. That's a little less than 2 jars at a time. I made 3 batches and I would buy the ground lamb each time before I wanted to roll. I rolled 5 jars total and that ended up being more than enough for all of us.
Basically, I roll the grape leaves and store them in freezer bags or Tupperware in the freezer. When I am ready to cook them, I start with the lamb shanks first, and then dump the frozen grape leaves in the clean pots with the lamb shanks at the bottom. Add water to the pot and proceed with bringing the water to a simmer and covering the top with plates to hold the rolled grape leaves under the water. I follow the rest of the instructions. It works so well and makes cooking the day of, a total snap!