Sunday, October 31, 2010

This week on “Cooking with Joe”

KIBBE (Lebanese tartar)

2 lbs. lean lamb or twice-ground beef
1 cup burghul (crushed bulgur wheat, crushed medium to fine)
½ medium size onion
2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
½ tsp. pepper
Ice water
Kibbeh is virtually the national dish of Lebanon. It’s traditional preparation is dramatic. It requires a stone mortar and heavy pestle called the jorn and modaqqa. The meat is pounded with rhythmic repetition until it is smooth and paste-like. Everyone in the neighborhood knows when kibbeh is in the making.
Select lamb from loin of the animal. Pound the cubed meat with a teaspoon of salt in a stone mortar with a wooden mallet or pestle. Remove meat from mortar when it becomes pasty. Now pound the onion with a teaspoon of salt and pepper until it is reduced to a pulp. Combine meat and onion and pound together until very smooth. Press to remove water. Knead burghul and meat with the hands. Pound together in mortar. Add salt to taste.
Dip mallet in ice water to keep meat moist and smooth. Properly prepared kibbeh must be pounded at least an hour. Then it is ready to be eaten as it is, or cooked in a variety of ways,
PREPARATION TIME MAY BE SHORTENED CONSIDERABLY by grinding the meat through the fine blade of a meat grinder. Grind onion twice. Grind onions with meat once. Combine the washed burghul with the meat-onion mixture. Knead well, seasoning with salt and papper. Grind this mixture three times, adding a tablespoon of ice water to keep it smooth.

To give it some more zing, one may add to the onion when grinding twice:
2 tablespoons of fresh sweet green pepper
A dash of allspice
A dash of powdered cumin
A ¼ of a leaf of fresh basil which has been pounded with a mortar
Garlic to taste

Grease a shallow 12 by 18 inch baking pan. Pat a layer of basic kibbeh smoothly and firmly over the bottom of the pan to a depth of one inch. Cover this evenly with a layer of stuffing*. Top with a second layer of kibbeh which is slightly thicker than the first. Score diamond shapes into the surface with a sharp knife. Pour one cup of melted butter over all. Bake in a moderate heat oven for 20 minutes, or until browned. Serve hot or cold.

1 cup ground meat
1 cup chopped onions
½ cup pine nuts
½ cup butter
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. allspice
Heat butter. Fry chopped onions in it until soft. Add meat and fry until lightly browned. Add pine nuts and continue frying until they are slightly browned and the meat has lost its’ pink color entirely. Season with salt, pepper, allspice, and cinnamon. Pour off excess fat.

There are various sorts of kibbeh, and here is another popular favorite:
Prepare a recipe of basic kibbeh and one of the stuffing. Form kibbeh into balls the size of a walnut. Smooth meat ball with finger dipped in cold water. With the thumb, form a well in the meatball. Fill it with half a teaspoon of meat stuffing, push meat into place, closing the opening, and patting the meat ball into an egg-like shape. Deep fry or bake in a moderate oven.

Serves eight.

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