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Stuffed Grape Leaves

1 pound ground lean lamb
1 cup long-grain rice
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
7 dozen fresh grape leaves or a 1 pound jar of grape leaves
1/4 tsp. allspice
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Juice of 2 lemons


Mix the lamb, rice, spices, and salt and pepper. Set aside. If
using fresh grape leaves, be sure to pick those that are still
shiny and new. Blanch them in boiling water until they change color,
just a moment. Drain and cool. If using bottled leaves, simply
remove them from the jar and sort the small ones from the large.
Place a layer of the smaller leaves in the bottom of a large
heavy-bottomed kettle or saucepot, with a cover. Lay each large
grape leaf on a flat surface, vein side up, and trim away the stem.
Place enough of the lamb mixture on the stem side of the leaf to
form a cylindrical shape of 1/2 inch by 2-3 inches, about 1 TBS.
Fold the stem end over the filling, fold the sides over to secure
the filling, then roll up the leaf toward its tip. Carefully place
each rolled leaf in the kettle or pot, seam side down, close together
so that the leaves will not unroll during cooking. You will have
about 3 or 4 layers. Place a plate over the rolled grape leaves
and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer
and cook covered, for 1 hour. After the first 30 minutes of cooking,
add the lemon juice. Do not take the lid off the pot again until
the leaves are done. Serve with yogurt as a garnish. Serves 6-8 as
an appetizer course.


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