Since we featured Faith on midEATS in Decemeber, she and I have been in discussion about doing a Middle-Eastern-themed guest post for her lovely blog, An Edible Mosaic! And after a few back-and-forth emails, we decided on a date … and then I had to come up with a Middle Eastern recipe! After deliberating for a while, I decided to share a dish that is beloved in many parts of the Middle East: baked kibbeh (in Egypt we call it kobeibah shami), a meat-and-bulgur pie with toasted pine nuts and spices. To learn all about kibbeh, including its historical background, cultural associations, cooking methods (did you know that some kibbeh is eaten raw?), and the inspiration behind this particular version of kibbeh, check out the guest post on Faith’s blog!
That’s it folks! Below is the basic recipe I’ve shared on the blog, minus all the juicy details.
Baked Kibbeh (Cardamom-Scented Meat and Bulgur Pie with Toasted Pine Nuts)
Prep Time: 1 hour + soaking
Cook Time: 1 hour
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons grass-fed ghee (clarified butter), or pasture butter
- 1/2 lb grass-fed, organic ground lamb or beef (not lean)
- 1/2 teaspoon unrefined salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon organic ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon organic ground cumin
- 1/2 cup raw pine nuts plus 2 tablespoons for garnish, soaked overnight in salted filtered water, then dehydrated in the oven until toasted
For the Meat-Bulgur Mixture:
- 1 cup (6 1/2 oz) fine bulgur, soaked overnight in filtered warm water with a tablespoon of lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or liquid whey
- 1 lb grass-fed, organic ground lamb or beef (not lean)
- 2 teaspoons organic ground cardamom (you can buy cardamom powder or grind the seeds yourself in a coffee grinder; to make two teaspoons of powder, you need about 13-14 cardamom pods)
- 1 teaspoon unrefined salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2-3 tablespoons grass-fed ghee (clarified butter), or melted pasture butter
- 10-inch stainless steel or glass pie plate, or 10-inch cast-iron skillet
(1) Soak bulgur and pine nuts: The night before, rinse the bulgur and soak in warm filtered water with a tablespoon of lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or liquid whey. Rinse the pine nuts as well, and soak in a separate dish with salted filtered water. Cover both, and leave to soak overnight.
(2) Toast the pine nuts: Preheat oven to 350 F. Drain the pine nuts from the soaking water, spread on a baking sheet, and place in the oven for pine nuts to dehydrate and start to toast, stirring a couple of times throughout, 5 to 10 minutes.
(3) Prepare the cooked filling: Dice the onion and sauté in 2 tablespoons of ghee or butter until fragrant and a translucent golden color. Add the 1/2 pound of ground beef or lamb, break up the lumps into small pieces with a wooden spoon, and stir on medium heat until cooked, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and stir well. Turn off heat, add toasted pine nuts to the meat mixture (reserving about two tablespoons of toasted pine nuts for adding to the top of the kibbeh), and mix. Set cooked filling aside while you prepare the raw meat-and-bulgur mixture.
(4) Prepare the meat-and-bulgur mixture: Drain bulgur from soaking water in a fine-mesh sieve, making sure to squeeze well to remove any excess water. Put the bulgur in a bowl, and add to it 1 pound of ground beef or ground lamb (make sure you use the same type of meat you used in the filling). Add 2 heaping teaspoons ground cardamom, 1 teaspoon unrefined salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and mix really well, either by hand, with a wooden meat tenderizer, or in a food processor (easiest). Make sure all the ingredients in this step are so well integrated that you cannot tell one apart from the rest. Half the mixture and set aside.
(5) Assemble kibbeh: Grease a 10-inch square baking pan or skillet with a little bit of ghee or butter, and evenly press half of the raw meat-and-bulgur mixture to the pan, with the sides curving up just a little bit. Add cooked filling evenly on top. Finally, with wet hands, scoop the second half of the raw meat-and-bulgur mixture, and bit by bit, add the mixture on top of the cooked filling, patting down each piece, connecting them and smoothing it over.
(6) Cut and bake kibbeh: Once the kibbeh is assembled evenly, use a sharp knife to cut the pie in a cross-hatch pattern. Melt 2 to 3 tablespoons of ghee or butter and evenly drizzle on the top of the kibbeh. In each diamond-shaped kibbeh piece, add a toasted pine nut or two for garnish. Bake at 375 F in a preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until fully cooked. You may wish to broil the top for a couple of minutes at the end for added golden color and crispy texture.
(7) Serve warm with yogurt: Let stand for a few minutes, then serve warm with a dollop of plain, creamy yogurt alongside.