Kebbeh! Over the weekend I made one of my favorite Lebanese meat dishes called Kebbeh (pronounced Kybbee). We are so lucky to live in a place where we can source our meat from farms where we know the animals have lived healthy, happy lives and are treated with kindness and respect. This weekend, we "packed half a steer", so I had lots of lovely fresh beef mince to work with. Here is my father's recipe for Kibbeh, a baked spiced meat dish featuring burghul, onions and pine nuts. It’s a bit of a time consuming recipe, but believe me the effort is worth it! Ingredients:
1kg beef mince (or if the beef is particularly lean, take 500g beef and 500g lamb)
2 large onions
½ bunch of green mint (leaves only)
2 cups burghul
½ tsp cinnamon powder
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp Lebanese 7-spice
1 onion chopped finely
About ½ - 1 cup pine nuts
½ kg mince lamb (or use beef if it’s not too lean)
1 tbsp Lebanese 7-spice
1 tsp salt
In a food processor, pulse onions to a fine slurry, remove and squeeze out most onion juice through a muslin cloth or teatowel. If you don’t do this, your kibbeh will be too wet.
Pulse mint in the processor with the semi-dried onion until it is a fine paste.
Wash the burghul and dry very well. I use my hands to squeeze out excess water, placing the squeezed burghul into a clean teatowel, which I then wring to remove all water.
In a large bowl, the biggest one you have, place your meat, onion/mint mix, burghul, cinnamon, salt and 7-spice.
With your hands, mix the meat until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. I knead it like bread, for about 5-6 minutes (at least). I do not recommend doing this step in the food processor as I don’t like the texture of over-processed meat. If however, to save time you do this step in the food processor, don’t add the burghul until the very end.
Place half your meat into a baking tray you have splashed liberally with good quality olive oil. Press down so it is nice and flat and even in your tray.
Make the filling – Fry onion gently until translucent. Turn up the heat a bit and add mince. Cook until brown. Add the pine nuts, salt and spices and continue to fry gently until the pine nuts are nicely browned (about 5 minutes).
Spread the filling out on a plate and fan to cool a little before evenly distributing on top of your layer of kibbeh in the tray.
Use the remainder of the meat to create a top layer. I take a handful of meat and thin it out in my hands like I would with play-doh. I layer these thinned out patties then use oiled hands to coax the edges together and make the lid seamless
Cut the kebbeh into diamond or triangle shaped pieces about 3-5cm
Drizzle the cuts liberally with olive oil. Tilt your tray to ensure you get oil in all the cuts you have made.
Bake in a moderate oven (180c) for approximately 20 minutes, or until the kibbeh is browned on top and starting to shrink from the sides of your tray.
Remove from oven. Leave your kibbeh undisturbed until it is cooled. Re-cut along your previously marked lines, serve when cooled with a yummy lemony salad. Leftovers cold out of the fridge next day are divine!