Byzantine Dolmathes

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Stuffed Grapeleaves



If using canned grape leaves, rinse off brine by floating leaves in a basin of cold water. Prepare fresh vine leaves by pouring a cup of boiling water over them in a bowl. Drain. Spread 5 or 6 leaves out at a time on a flat surface. Lay leaf stem side up. Snip off stem with kitchen shears. MAKE FILLING: Heat oil in large frying pan. Fry meat, onions and garlic on medium heat for 5 minutes, mixing it as it cooks. Add water and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 10 minutes, until water is absorbed. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Put 1 teaspoon of filling near stem. Bring left side of leaf towards center, then bring right side towards center. They will not always meet. Pick up stem end of leaf, tucking in the filling. Roll away from you. It will be an oblong roll like a sausage. Line the bottom of a large skillet with 4 leaves. Place each roll so that the tucked under end is on the bottom. Arrange each roll snugly, one next to the other, until all the leaves (except 3), and filling are gone. Place these leaves flat on top of rolls. Place a flat dish on top of rolls also to prevent their unravelling during cooking. Add water and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 45 minutes. When done, remove pot from fire. Make Egg and Lemon Sauce and add to broth immediately or serve without sauce either cold as an appetizer or as a hot entree. EGG AND LEMON SAUCE: Beat eggs until thick and light yellow, at least 5 minutes, with an electric beater or 10 to 15 minutes by hand. Add juice slowly, beating all the while. Mix 1 cup hot broth into beaten eggs, stirring it in quickly with spoon (or wire whisk) so heat will not curdle the eggs. Cook over very low heat until thickened.