Sunday, April 13, 2008

Lamb Kibbeh Hotdish

Kibbeh is a combination of ground lamb and bulghur*, and is eaten throughout the Levant. It can be prepared in countless ways, from raw to deep fried. Here's my version of a baked style, made into a hotdish with potatoes and tomatoes.

I have changed and refined this recipe, and it's very similar to Alex's kufta hotdish, the main difference being that this one contains bulgur. Both versions are delicious!

Here's what you'll need:

1 lb. ground lamb
3/4 c. bulghur
1 small onion
1/3 c. chopped parsley + extra for garnish
1 medium russet potato, peeled and sliced very thin (1/8")
1-2 tomatoes, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp. salt
2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1 pinch cinnamon
pine nuts for garnish (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350. Grease a large, flat-bottomed baking dish or cast iron pan. Place the sliced potatoes in the bottom of the pan and place the pan in the oven while preparing the other ingredients (this will kick-start the cooking).

Soak the bulgur in a bowl of water for a few minutes. Meanwhile, grate the onion or chop it finely in a food processor. Drain the bulgur. Combine the grated onions, parsley, meat, bulgur, and spices in a large bowl.

At this point I recommend that you microwave or fry a small amount of the meat mixture to check the seasoning. It should be very flavorful, since it's the heart of the dish, so adjust if necessary.

Remove the pan with the potatoes from the oven. Spread the meat mixture over it and gently smooth the top (don't pack it down too tight). Arrange the tomatoes attractively on top, then sprinkle with parsley, pine nuts, and a few grinds of pepper. Pour a small amount of water over the dish (~1/4 c.) to provide moisture while cooking. Return to the oven and bake for 1 hour or until the meat and potatoes are cooked through. I broiled mine for a couple of minutes at the end to brown the pine nuts.

Slice into squares or wedges and serve with some kind of zingy yogurt sauce. I'd mix yogurt, garlic, mint, salt, and water. I think this dish is good cold the next day as well.

*Kibbeh is traditionally prepared by pounding cubed meat in a mortar and pestle until it's more like ground meat, and then the remaining ingredients are pounded as well. Being a liberated 'merican woman, I used a food processor. I have no idea how much this affects the final quality, but honestly I don't care when the other option is hours of pounding.

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