This dish used to be my aunt’s specialty; the key is the quality of the meat (called habra in Lebanon), it needs to be completely fat-free and without any sinews or nerves. You can use lamb (from the leg), beef (loin) or turkey or even chicken. The meat is ground and spiced and enclosed with a cheesecloth like a jelly roll with carrots, pistachios or some hard-boiled eggs. Then it is tied and the sausage shape is browned gently in a little oil, then braised for 45 minutes in some liquid.
A great dish to prepare in advance for a party or a picnic.
If you prepare it with chicken or turkey you may want to add a couple of egg yolks to give it a richer taste.
INGREDIENTS: 4 servings
- 1 pound extra-lean ground veal or lamb or beef or turkey
- 3 carrots
- 1/2 cup of pistachios or pine nuts or other nuts
- Spices: 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp of allspice, 1/4 tsp of nutmeg
- Olive oil, as needed
- piece of cheesecloth
- Herbal flavoring for the gravy: 1 bay leaf, 1 sprig of thyme, 1 clove of garlic, several peppercorns
- 1 cup of water or bouillon or a combo of water and red wine vinegar
- to make the gravy: 1 tbsp of cornstarch and 1/4 cup of water
- Peel the carrots and cut into thin matchsticks. Soak the pistachios in water for one hour or longer and then peel them and spread them to dry on a paper towel.
- Sprinkle the meat with the spices and mix to combine well. Spread a large rectangular piece of cheesecloth on the countertop; flatten the meat into a rectangle on a large piece of foil, about 8 inches by 11 inches (the size of a standard piece of paper). Flip the meat onto the cheesecloth. Place the carrots and pistachios on the meat and roll the meat up like a fat sausage.
- Tie up the cheesecloth-wrapped meat into a sausage; heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large pot and drop the meat sausage in it to brown evenly on all sides, about 10 minutes.
- Add the water (or stock), bay leaf and other herbs and aromatics. Braise gently for 40 minutes or so flipping it after 15 minutes, keeping the pot covered at all times. When ready, untie the cheesecloth and place it on the serving dish.
- To make the sauce: Collect all the broth and strain through a sieve, pressing with a wooden spoon to extract all the delicious juices. Dissolve one tablespoon of cornstarch in 1/4 cup of water; pour the broth in a skillet and add the cornstarch mixture, stir continuously and bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes till thickened. Serve.