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Stuffed Grape Leaves
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Categories: Beef, Favorites, Meat Dishes, Middle Eastern Cuisine, Rice
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Total Time: 2 hrs.
Preparation Time: 1 hrs. 10 min.
Simmering Time: 50 min.

This traditional Middle Eastern dish (known as Warak Inab) is a lot of work. However, once you get the hang of the rolling technique it gets easier. The combination of the slightly acidic leaf, rice and meat stuffing, and the cool yogurt make it worth it. If you can get your hands on fresh grape leaves, by all means use them. Just remember to soften them up by soaking them in hot water for 10 minutes.

40 preserved grape leaves
1 cup rice
1/2 pound ground lamb
1 1/8 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Remove preserved grape leaves from jar and rinse with water. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix rice ground lamb, salt, pepper, allspice, cinnamon, and vegetable oil. Place a heaping teaspoonful of rice mixture on dull side of grape leaf. Begin rolling in a jelly roll fashion. After the first roll, tuck in the ends, and continue rolling. The roll should be firm, but not too tight so that the expanding rice won't burst it and not too loose so it won't sag and the filling won't ooze out. Repeat with the rest of the leaves and the filling.

In a 2 1/2 quart pan, arrange rolls in compact rows. Add enough water to just below the top row of rolls. Place a small plate on top of the rolls. This is to weigh them down so they will remain intact while they cook. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce heat. Cover and let simmer until leaves are tender (45 minutes). Most of the water should have evaporated at this point. Uncover, add lemon juice and cook for 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat and transfer to serving platter. Serve with yogurt.

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