Maria's Greek Stuffed Vine Leaves...Dol-ma-da-kia!!

July 30th was my birthday. My wife asked me what I wanted for my birthday so I surprised her by asking her to make me some of her fantastic vine leaves. Maria remembers her teens when her mother used to ask for her help to wrap and stuff vine leaves for some large party the family was having. So basically this recipe dates back to granny Loula's days!
You will need:
-  500 gr ground beef
-  500 gr ground pork.

-  500 gr vine leaves in brine (jar/s).
-  8 whole big cloves of garlic not pealed.
-  65 gr finely chopped dill.

-  30 gr finely chopped parsley.
-  200 gr finely chopped onions.
-  1 cup olive oil.
-  ½ cup Arborio rice (106 gr).
-  50 gr fresh butter.
-  1 - 2 liters water to cover stuffed vine leaves.
-  1 cube of beef (jelly type found in super market fridges).
For the egg-lemon sauce (Avgo-lemono):
-  2 whole eggs.
-  Juice of 2 lemons.
-  3 cups of broth resulting from cooking the vine leaves.
-  3 Tbsp. corn flour dissolved in some cold water (keep stirring corn flour before adding to sauce because it quickly settles).
-  Blanch the vine leaves as taken out of the jar/s (to wash brine off and to slightly soften).
-  Mix thoroughly both types of ground meat, rice,dill, parsley, onions, oil salt and pepper to taste.
-  Open the vine leaf. For a shinier presentation and smoother taste, make sure the rough side is facing you.

-  Take some meat mix and place on open vine leaf. 

-  Using the same method used to make spring rolls, stuff all the leaves one by one trying to make them as small as possible. Please see pictures.

-  Arrange every stuffed leaf tightly to each other in a big pot making circles as shown in picture.
-  When first layer is full, continue arranging the next.

-  Arrange the garlic cloves as seen in picture.
-  If the stuffing is finished and there are still some vine leaves left,  place on top. 
-  Dissolve the beef cube in the boiling water and add to just cover the stuffed vine leaves.
-  Put an old plate upside down on the surface of the vine leaves.
-  Place a heavy stone on the plate.
-  The reason is to keep the stuffed vine leaves in place when boiling begins.
-  Put the lid on the pot.
-  Cook on slow heat for 1½ hours making sure by the end of the cooking time that there still is liquid.
-  Taste one to check for doneness of the vine leaf.
-  At that point the fantastic combination of aromas of dill and stuffed vine leaves will fill the house!
Method for the Egg-Lemon sauce:
-  Empty the pot from its juices.
-  Let the sauce cool.
-  Beat eggs very well till nearly white using a hand mixer. This is to expell as much of the egg odor as possible.
-  Add the lemon juice to the eggs very slowly while beating.
-  Add one cup of cooled broth to the egg-lemon mixture.
Note: If the broth is too hot the egg will curdle.
-  Add everything to the remaining broth.
-  Dissolve corn flour in some cold water.
-  Add corn flour/cold water to the egg-lemon mixture while stirring slowly to heat and to reach the desired sauce thickness.

Note: For black pepper lovers > sprinkle surface with freshly ground pepper.
Serve stuffed vine leaves with oven roasted potatoes, feta cheese on the side while drinking ouzo.
Totally enjoy!!


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