I would name this one of the most exquisite in the Lebanese roster of traditional dishes; however, it does require some TLC. The onions have to be browned first, the lamb or beef need to simmer till thoroughly cooked in their broth and the bulgur pilaf, studded with onions, chunks of meat and chickpeas, should be fragrant with cumin and the flavor of the caramelized onions. Learned of a new technique today: When preparing the sauce for this dish, toast the flour first in the skillet till light brown, then add the broth and stir till thickened. INGREDIENTS:
- 1 1/2 cups of coarse bulgur
- 1 pound of pearl onions
- 1 pound of lamb shanks or lamb stew pieces or beef stew
- 2 cups of cooked chickpeas or 1 cup of dry
- 1 Tbsp of ground cumin
- salt, to taste
- 1/2 tsp of black pepper (or allspice)
- olive oil, as needed
- 1/4 cup of flour
For a vegan recipe, click here. METHOD:
- Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil and brown the onions from all sides. Set aside. Sprinkle the meat with spices and brown briefly in a pot with a bit of oil; add 1 1/2 quarts (6 cups) of water and simmer gently until the meat is thoroughly cooked and tender. (you may add bones to the stock for extra flavor). If using dry chickpeas, soak them the night before with a dash of baking soda, drain and add to the meat stock to cook alongside the meat. If using canned beans, rinse and drain and add to the pot towards the end of cooking time.
- Reserve 2 cups of meat broth (can take some meat and beans and onions as well for the sauce if you wish) to make the sauce; scoop out the meat and beans and cook the bulgur in the remaining stock. You need about 2 cups of liquid. Cover and cook the bulgur until soft and place the meat and beans back in the pot with the bulgur as well as onions.
- Make the sauce: Toast the flour in a skillet until light brown and fragrant; add the meat stock (minus meat, beans and onions) and stir till thickened; add the meat, beans and onions in the sauce if desired. Stir to combine until smooth. Serve with the bulgur pilaf.
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