- 40 large vine leaves, in brine (available from delis, souschef.co.uk or amazon.co.uk)
- 5 tbsp olive oil
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- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
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- 300g lean minced beef
- 140ml chicken stock
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 2 tsp tomato purée
- 250g short-grain rice
- 3 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 3 tbsp finely chopped mint
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- juice 2 lemons
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Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/ gas 4. Wash the vine leaves thoroughly, then put in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Boil for 15 mins, then drain.
Put the oil in a medium, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 6-7 mins until translucent. Increase the heat and add the beef, frying for about 5 mins or until browned. Add the stock, tomatoes, purée and rice. Stir together, then add the cinnamon, mint, lemon juice and 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper. Check the seasoning, stir to combine, then remove from the heat.
To stuff the vine leaves, lay a leaf on a chopping board, shiny-side down. Cut off and discard any stems. At the point where the stem was, add 1 heaped tsp of the mixture. Fold the bottom of the leaf up and over the filling, then fold the sides inwards and the top down, and continue to roll up. Repeat with the remaining filling and leaves.
Line the base of a deep, ovenproof dish with any remaining vine leaves, then tightly pack the stuffed leaves into the dish. Pour over 140ml water and cover with foil. Cook for 1 hr, until the rice is cooked. You can also freeze the filled vine leaves. Cook these from frozen for 90 mins until piping hot and the rice is thoroughly cooked.