Get ready to make one of Lebanon’s most popular dishes: Kibbeh! No Lebanese feast is complete without it! If you’ve ever tasted it, you will understand why.
Consisting of ground meat and other ingredients, kibbeh can be cooked into many forms and with different spices. In fact, each region of Lebanon has its own variation. I will share Eva’s recipe for Kibbeh bassal, which originated in Eva’s region in Northern Lebanon. This kibbeh is baked flat and also topped with onions and sometimes pine nuts.
Traditionally, kibbeh has been made with lamb or goat. In this recipe, we will use ground beef. Another main ingredient of kibbeh is bulgar. In the past, because meat was so expensive, folks had to get a little creative in order to make the most of smaller quantities. Bulgar, a wheat, was mixed into meat to make it appear larger. The mix ended up being delicious and bulgar is still being used to make kibbeh today. Bulgar is sold in most grocery stores, though Eva prefers to buy hers at mediterranean/middle eastern stores because they have more of a variety. Always choose the bulgar that is labeled as a "number one".
The ingredients for Eva’s Kibbeh recipe are simple but the preparation may be a little difficult for beginners and first-timers. Roll up your sleeves and don’t worry, I promise it’s worth the effort!
1. Place bulgar into a bowl of water and let it soak for about 15 minutes
2. Chop onions into strips (leave a handful of strips aside to grate into meat mixture)
3. Drizzle olive oil into a frying pan, add a dash of salt, a dash of pepper, and the rest of the onions. Sauté onions until slightly wilted.
4. In a big bowl, add ground beef, 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper, and the leftover grated onions and knead together (place a separate bowl of water beside you and continuously wet your hands as you knead)
5. After you have kneaded the meat, add the bulgar and mix it well (it should look like a meat loaf)
6. Back to your onions, once they are wilted spread all over bottom of a baking pan and drizzle olive oil evenly around the pan so that it is coated. *Some people like to soak it in olive oil, so feel free to add more or less depending on your preference
7. Wet your hands and flatten the meat mixture on top of the onions (one patty at a time)
8. Before baking, cut the kibbeh into pie slices or squares, depending on the shape of your baking pan
9. *Optional* Use a fork to press gently down on the meat to make squiggles for a design and to allow the oil to go through the kibbeh
10. Place your kibbeh pan into the oven and turn it on high broil. Watch it and rotate it constantly for 15-20 minutes or until top is golden brown.
11. Switch oven to bake at 375 degrees for another 15-20 minutes
12. After kibbeh is cooked, flip kibbeh over as you remove each slice from the pan keeping the onions on top.
*If you make too much kibbeh, don't worry! Wrap it up and put it in the fridge. It makes a great leftover dish!