Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kibbe - "Middle Eastern Meatloaf" & Rice with Lentils

I LOVE Middle Eastern food. I mean what can beat hummus with warm pita bread! Yum! This is my absolute favorite Middle Eastern food. I've never found this at a restaurant and I'm not sure why cuz it would seem like a pretty easy thing to have on a menu...just as easy if not easier, than falalfils . Though once I looked at the picture I posted, it doesn't look that appealing, but it is a hunk of meat (the darker glob on the right is the kibbe. the lighter glob on the white plate is the rice). The other raw meat picture is to show you what it will look like before going into the oven.

There are several authentic ways to serve it: patties, balls, loafs, etc... The way I like it is square patty style. I believe this meal is mainly Lebanese. I've had two different Lebanese mothers teach me how to make it. Neither used a recipe and one didn't speak English, so I've done a little research and modified the recipe so it will be easy for you to make. I served this with my Middle Eastern Rice with Lentils recipe which is also listed below and a garlic dressing green salad. As for the verdict: everyone loved it!


2 # ground beef (authentic way to make it is to use can combine meats by using half lamb, half beef, which is the way the mother's taught me, but if you have a lamb aversion or can't find it in the grocery store, which is a good possibility, just use all beef which is how I made it tonight)
1 cup bulgar (or cracked wheat as it may be called)
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup olive oil

1 # ground beef
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon allspice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse the bulgar in a pan of water; drain well by squeezing or running through a fine mesh colander. Add wheat to raw meat, then add spices: onion, salt, basil, and allspice. Mix well together. Just like American meatloaf, the best way to do this is to use your hands, but if you have a touching-raw-meat aversion, then you can use a large spoon. Divide mixture in half. Take one half and layer the bottom of a 9X13 baking pan. Smooth down as much as possible. Can use water drops to help with this process. Layer will be very thin. Reserve remaining mixture for later.

Make stuffing by sauting 1# of ground beef. The finer the meat is cooked up, the better. Add pine nuts, cinnamon, salt and allspice. Place cooked mixture on top of raw meat mix. Top this with the remaining reserved raw meat mixture. Smooth top as much as possible (I usually take a little bit of water with my fingertips and dribble over the top to help smooth it out...and just like the mixing, fingers seem to work best).

Loosen the edges by taking a table knife and running it around the edge of the pan. Make slice marks in the top of the "loaf". I guess you could make a diamond-shape design if you want, but I usually make square marks as if I was cutting the patties out. Where the lines intersect, I then take my finger and poke a hole in the meat. Then take your oil and drizzle over the whole loaf, filling each hole. May use more if needed. I usually never measure this out. I just take the bottle and start pouring until it is all covered and holes filled. If you were Lebanese it would almost seemed drenched in oil, but I tend to use enough to fill the holes and have a rubbed oil layer over the whole top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes until meat is cooked. Cut into squares and serve. I personally just like them plain, but you could serve with a yogurt sauce (tzikiti), ranch dressing, or do I even dare say ketchup (but only if you try a plain bite first and can't stand it- ok?!)

Middle Eastern Rice with Lentils

1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 Tb oil
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 Tb tomato paste
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup dry lentils
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
Additional water if needed

In large saucepan, cook onion in oil, stirring until soft, over medium heat. Add rice and stir for several minutes. Combine tomato paste with the water and cinnamon. Add to rice along with the lentils. Bring to boil, cover and lower heat. Simmer 30 minutes.

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Stir the salt, raisins, and pine nuts into rice mixture. The mixture should be a little watery; add 1/4 cup water if it is dry. Place mixture in greased 2 1/2 quart baking dish. Cover and bake for 20-30 minutes.

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