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Dirty Rice Dolmades

Collard greens are an excellent substitute for grape leaves in this Southern take on the classic Greek mezze. Look for young collards—their smaller, more delicate leaves are less fibrous. Brining tenderizes and adds tartness to the greens, and grilling the finished dolmades adds a little char and crispness to the collard wrappers. Comeback Sauce, an all-purpose tangy-spicy dipping sauce that hails from Mississippi, is said to have been first served in a 1930s Greek diner in Jackson.
By / Photography By Katie Farmand | March 01, 2014


Using a sharp knife, trim the stem out of each collard leaf. Rinse collards with cold running water to remove any dirt. Place collards in large, heat-proof storage container.

Combine 3 quarts water, salt, sugar and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Pour hot brine liquid over cleaned collards. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate. Let collards soak in brine overnight.

Drain chicken livers. Remove any obvious veins and chop as fine as possible. Season chopped livers liberally with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil until shimmering in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add sausage and cook halfway before adding seasoned livers. Cook through and reserve for later.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pot. When hot, add onions, celery, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Sweat, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent. Add spices and sweat a couple of minutes more.

Add tomatoes, chicken stock and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and adjust seasoning if necessary before adding rice. Cook, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes or until rice is cooked through. Spread cooked rice on sheet pan and cool to room temperature.

Transfer cooled rice to a large bowl. Fold in cooked sausage and liver mixture, pecans, currants and lemon zest.

Drain brined collards. Lay flat on a clean work surface. You may have to shingle a couple of leaves to make a large enough wrapper for the filling. Scoop a scant ¼ cup of dirty rice filling into the middle of the collard wrapper. Use your fingers to shape the filling into an oval about 2 inches long. Fold right and left sides of collard wrapper over onto the filling, then fold bottom up and roll into a cigar shape. Finished dolmades should be rolls with tucked-in sides that fully contain filling.

*Comeback Sauce recipe

Heat grill. Rub dolmades with a little olive oil, and grill on medium heat until wrappers are slightly charred. Serve warm with Comeback Sauce on the side for dipping.

Related Recipes: Local Ingredients, Global Roots.


Collard Green Wrappers
  • 1 bunch young collard greens
  • 3 quarts water
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • Juice of 3 lemons
Dirty Rice Filling
  • ½ pound chicken livers
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ pound pork sausage, removed from casing
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 (8-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1½ cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¾ cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and crushed
  • ½ cup currants, soaked in hot water
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Comeback Sauce*
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