Lebanese Stuffed Grape Leaves
70 – 80 fresh grape leaves
3/4 cup long grain rice – soaked 30 minutes in cold water, rinsed and drained.
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 lb course ground beef or lamb
Lamb bones for the bottom of the pot
1 cinnamon stick
3 bay leaves
Lamb stock or water to cover
6 – 8 cloves garlic, sliced
Juice of 2-3 lemons
8-10 ounces tomato sauce
Remove all stems from grape leaves – dip in boiling water 30 seconds to slightly wilt.
Mix together rice, cinnamon, salt, pepper. Add the meat and blend well. Make sure rice is distributed evenly throughout.
As you stuff the grape leaves, set any torn or small ones aside to use on the bottom of the pan.
Place one grape leaf smooth side down with stem end facing you. Put 1 tablespoon of filling in center of the leaf, and with your fingers, form into a small cylinder and roll up like an egg roll.
Place the bones, bay and cinnamon stick in the bottom of a Dutch oven, or heavy bottomed pot with a lid. Cover with torn and extra grape leaves. Arrange finished grape leaves, seam down in tight parallel rows – leaving a small round hole in the middle for water circulation. Change direction with each layer. Place slices of garlic between each layer and pour over the lemon juice and tomato sauce. Invert a plate over the leaves to keep them in place. Add stock or water to cover plate. Keep pressure on leaves to keep them tightly together. Cover pan, bring to a boil and reduce heat to a slow simmer and cook slowly for 15 – 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Leave covered off heat for another 30 minutes.
Serve hot with lemon wedges and yogurt with mint.