There is one dish that gets my creative juices going and that’s kibbe. I mean Paula Wolfert mentions in her book The cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean that there are 50 types of kibbe. I am willing to bet that there are more. Kibbe pie with chicken is one I did not grow up eating but it is as good as the one with lamb, but milder in taste. It just needs to be spiced up a bit. I consulted Chef Ramzi’s The Culinary Heritage of Lebanon, and adapted his recipe.
INGREDIENTS: This quantity will serve 6 portions
- 1 pound of chicken breast
- 1 cup fine bulgur (burghul #1)
- Spices: salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon ground coriander, 1 tablespoon sumak, 1 tablespoon cumin, pinch ground cinnamon and allspice
- 1 large egg (optional)
- 1/2 bunch of cilantro, leaves chopped and stems discarded
- 1 pound onions
- 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 green pepper, chopped or 1 jalapeño pepper chopped, seeds removed (optional)
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- Spices: salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon sumak, 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses, 1 teaspoon sugar, pinch of cinnamon and allspice
- Start with the stuffing:
- Pulse the onions in the processor or by hand, chopping them fine. Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet then add the onions and pepper (if using) and the spices.
- While the onions are slowly frying, toast the nuts either in the oven or in a small skillet (can be done ahead of time)
- When the onions are golden, soft, and the mixture is well blended add the nuts, mix well and turn off the heat. Let cool.
Prepare the kibbe:
- Grease the pie pan, either with a spray or with two teaspoons of oil and a piece of wax paper.
- Place the bulgur in a bowl and cover with water. Dump the bulgur in a sieve and drain it of its water, pressing with a rubber spatula. Don’t let the bulgur sit in the water longer than a few seconds.
- Cut the chicken breasts in large pieces, remove any extra fat or ligaments. Place the chicken breasts in the food processor and process for a few minutes until ground.
- Add the bulgur and spices, add the cilantro greens and the egg and process for a few minutes until the mixture is a paste. If you see ligaments, remove from the paste with a small knife.
- Place the chicken mixture in a bowl. If it is too sticky, freeze for about 10 minutes. Divide the mixture in two parts. Place a part on top of a large piece of wax paper and roll into a circle.
- Holding the wax paper, flip it over on top of the pie plate. When the dough is snugly in place, remove the paper slowly. If you need to, add extra dough to patch uneven sides.
- Place the stuffing on top of the first layer of dough and spread evenly across the pie with a spatula.
- Roll the top layer of dough. Repeat the operation and place on top of the stuffing. Fit snugly on the pie plate with dampened fingers.
- Trace lines across the pie with a knife, crosswise on opposite directions.
- With the tip of a wooden spoon, dig a small hole in the middle of the pie. Decorate the pie with nuts.
- Either spray the pie with olive oil or brush two teaspoons of olive oil on the pie.
- Bake in a 350F oven for 20 minutes until cooked. It will puff up a little due to the egg.
- Cool a bit and serve hot or warm or at room temperature.
Chef Ramzi adds a lot of walnuts (1 1/2 cups) to the filling and just a bit of onion. I decided to do the opposite to make it lighter. It is a matter of taste, of course!
A lot of people like to spread the kibbe with their hands dipping their fingers in ice water.
This kibbe can be frozen uncooked. Just pull it out of the freezer the day you plan to serve it and bake it in a 350F oven till cooked through. It can be thawed for a few hours in the fridge or baked directly from the freezer. It can be frozen cooked too.
Also, I think red peppers and paprika powder go very well with this; maybe next time, I will stuff the kibbe with onions and red peppers and paprika and walnuts…
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