Happy Hannukah to all my friends of the Jewish faith!
This is the classic Lebanese dish, par excellence. A testament to the prowess of a Lebanese cook.
This pie was a welcome gift from the only woman to be appointed in the south of Lebanon in the position of notary public (mokhtara), Mrs Mimi Arab. Her cooking skills are well-known and her kibbeh pie did not last long at our house.
She was kind enough to invite me to lunch and allowed me to take photos of her 400 year-old house in the village of Deir el-Kamar, where she operates a gas station and general store as well as officiates as the local notary public.
We talked about her years in Lebanon after leaving her native Damascus; she raised three children and endured many hardships including wars and privations while the village was under a blockade. She showed me all the areas of her house that she remodeled and we sat down to a copious lunch prepared by her loyal housekeeper of fifty years.
What is kibbeh? Kibbeh is the mainstay of Lebanese gastronomy. An intimate marriage between the leanest finest meat and bulgur.
What is the best meat for kibbeh? In Lebanon, butchers will sell kibbeh meat already prepared; in the US, one has to find a good trusted butcher and request some lean leg of lamb or beef sirloin, in which all visible fat has been removed.
The meat needs to be ground three times at least; pounded or processed in a food processor until pasty.
Then mixed with some bulgur and seasonings; then spread, pie-style, onto a large round dish.
A filling of ground meat, onion and pine nuts is prepared and cooked. This filling is placed over the first layer of meat. Then the top layer of meat is spread evenly over the filling.
Kibbeh can be made of lamb, veal, beef, chicken, white fish or vegan. It can be made in pie form or in stuffed elongated meatballs. The shell of the meatballs needs to be thin, the thinner the better.
For a meat kibbeh recipe, click here.
For a chicken kibbeh recipe, click here.
For a fish kibbeh recipe, click here.
For a vegan kibbeh recipe, click here.