Since I was a child this has always been our favorite special occasion dish. It can be time consuming to roll the grape leaves, but it’s fun to get the family to sit around a table and do it together.
1.5 pound beef or lamb (my mom likes to use thinly sliced beef round or carne asada)
1 jar grape leaves in water, drained
½ cup fresh lemon juice
2 lamb shanks cut in half
1.5 cups short grain white rice
1.5 teaspoon allspice
1.5 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
Finely chop the beef or lamb to the point where it somewhat resembles ground beef (if you freeze the meat for about 20 minutes it is much easier to chop.
Rinse the rice and drain well.
Add the spices and mix well. Add the beef and mix well with a fork.
Place the lamb shanks on the bottom of a large pot.
Lay the grape leaves, inside up on a plate. Cut off the tough stem. Add about a teaspoon of the meat and rice mixture and roll up the grape leaves as you would a burrito, making sure not to roll them too tightly.
Add them to the pot, stacking them on top of the lamb shanks.
Adding the water to the pot: Bring the pot to the sink and tilt it just enough to not let all the grape leaves fall out of the pot. Slowly add water just until the water pours out of the side of the pot.
Cook over medium/high heat until the water starts to boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about one hour or until tender.
Before serving add the lemon juice and swirl around the pot to incorporate.
*If you are pressed for time, ground meat is fine but the grape leaves come out a little more on the dense side.