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My grandmothers recipe for "grape leaves". My daughters are usually in charge of cutting the leaves. If they help roll, we can really get the job done quickly.
- Place rice in a medium sized bowl and cover with 3 cups of cold water.
- Let stand for 30-60 minutes.
- Drain and rinse grape leaves in a colander.
- Cut leaves in half removing the thick center stem.
- Save five or six large leaves for bottom of pan- discard any extremely tough or ragged leaves.
- Drain all water from rice.
- Add lamb, salt, pepper, and cinnamon.
- Mix by hand thoroughly.
- Line bottom of large kettle or dutch oven with five or six large leaves to prevent scorching.
- Lay a leaf flat on a plate, shiny side down.
- Put approximately 1 heaping teaspoon of meat mixture towards bottom of leaf.
- Roll in one edge to seal, then roll leaf up firmly but not too tight (you need to leave a little room for the rice to expand while cooking).
- Place leaves in kettle in circular fashion leaving a small circle in the center for water to circulate.
- When you have one full row on bottom of pan, slice two cloves of garlic over the top of the leaves.
- Sprinkle with a little of the mint.
- Continue rolling the leaves and layering them with the garlic/ mint.
- You should have approximately five rows of leaves when you are done.
- Place a heatproof plate over the top of the leaves- large enough to hold them in place, but with a little room on the edges.
- Put a bowl on top of the plate filled with water to hold the plate down while cooking.
- Fill kettle with water over the top of the plate.
- Cook on top of stove on high heat until it begins to boil.
- Lower heat to medium so that water does not boil over and continue cooking.
- Total cooking time after it starts to boil is 16-19 minutes.
- Remove bowl.
- Carefully drain water from kettle.
- Remove plate.
- Arrange leaves on a platter.
- Serve with lemon wedges.