Kibbeh

Kibbeh

Minced lamb and burghul

By
From
The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook
Serves
6-10
Photographer
Alan Benson

The preparation of kibbeh, virtually the national dish of both Lebanon and Syria, is an exercise in patience and stamina. Or rather this was the case, and still is for the purists of Middle Eastern cookery. Modern appliances can replace the traditional madaqqa and jorn (mortar and pestle) for the tedious preparation — the kibbeh will be just as good and the cook far less exhausted.

Two essential principles of kibbeh-making are to have the right meat, and to keep the mixture cool. Ideally hogget (yearling mutton) should be used; if you cannot obtain this, lamb may be used, provided it is not too young. Look for lamb with a deep pinky-red colour and a good fat cover. Very young lamb is a definite pink in colour, very lean and velvety in texture, and may be used for the making of kibbeh nayye only. Beef topside may be used as a last resort, providing it is prime quality.

Whatever the meat, it must be trimmed of all fat and gristle before preparation, so allow for this trimming when purchasing your meat.

In cities with large Lebanese and Syrian communities, it is sometimes possible to find a butcher who specialises in providing ready minced kibbeh meat. A Lebanese or Syrian acquaintance might know of such a butcher.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
525g burghul
1kg lean lamb or hogget, from the leg
1 large onion, chopped
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground allspice
125ml iced water or ice chips

Method

  1. Food grinder method: place the burghul in a bowl, cover with cold water and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Drain in a sieve and press with the back of a spoon to remove as much moisture as possible. Tip into a flat dish, spread out and chill for 1–2 hours. This also dries the burghul further.
  2. Trim all the fat and fine skin from the meat and cut it into cubes. Chill for 1 hour if not very cold.
  3. Pass the meat through the meat grinder twice, using a fine screen. Grind the onion twice and combine with the meat, burghul, salt, pepper and allspice.
  4. Pass the mixture through the grinder again twice, adding a little iced water or ice chips if the mixture feels warm.
  5. Knead to a smooth, light paste with your hands, adding iced water or ice chips when necessary. Cover and chill until required.
  6. Food processor method: prepare the burghul and meat as above. Using a steel cutting blade, process a quarter of the meat cubes at a time until paste-like in consistency. Transfer to a large bowl. Process the onion to a thick liquid and add to the meat. Combine the meat with the onion, seasoning, allspice and burghul. Process again in six lots, adding a tablespoon of iced water or ice chips to each lot. Combine again in a bowl and give a final knead by hand. Cover and chill until required.
Tags:
The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook
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