I discovered Staub pots at the Napa restaurant, Ubuntu. The chefs have run away from Ubuntu, but I don't know if the dish ran away with the spoon. They may still be serving food in these adorable little vessels there, but who's cooking?
Doesn't matter; I've got a pair of baby Staubs at home, and I'm finding they actually change the way I put meals together.
Sometime back I made deconstructed stuffed cabbage, not rolled up at all, in the pots. It was a breakthrough.
Now, I love little folded-up packets of food probably more than anyone, so I'm not quitting leaf rollage.
But the Staubs came to the rescue, once again, saving a near-impossible leaf dish: Grape leaves from our yard.
They are delicate and tiny; too small, frankly, for stuffing with any "hospital-corners" success.
So I just destemmed the leaves and gave them a quick, insouciant chop. (I know the first rule of Knife Skills is "Never be insouciant." Hey, it's my blood! I'll shed it however insouciantly I wish.)
The rest of the recipe is simple, Simon. Take a couple of tiny lamb chops and finely chop. In a bowl, stir the lamb with an itty dab of raw rice (it doesn't take much; look at a cookbook), some chopped onions and garlic, and the seasonings of your choice. I used Greeky herbs, salt, pepper. Now, stir in your chopped, fresh (not cooked) grape leaves. Just wing 'em through; nice hodge-podgey.
Divide between two jaunty iron pots, pour a nice meat broth over, cover and bake. We let them go too long in the oven, but you couldn't really find fault. The flavor of unprocessed grape leaves is like sunshine.
OK: This might sound icky, and to tell the truth, it's why I'm running the photo as a sepia tone. We spooned "avocadolemono" sauce over the meaty, fragrant food. No eggs in the mix, at all. It's a fabulous substitute, but it's scary green. Scary.