This type of kibbeh is called kibbeh sajeeyyeh in Lebanon. The kibbeh is shaped like a saj , the concave cooking grill shaped like an inverted wok used in almost every corner bakery throughout Lebanon.
Oum Elias using a saj to bake bread in her garden using sticks from pine trees in the picture above.
There are two main advantages to this type of kibbeh; the first advantage is that the kibbeh is baked (after being coated with some oil) and the other advantage is that shaping the kibbeh is a lot easier that the kibbeh balls (which require solid practice and hours of work).
I decided to stuff these kibbeh with shredded beef instead of the usual ground beef or lamb, because I prefer the softer texture of the shredded meat, especially after cooking it in a flavorful broth. In this case, the sky’s the limit, and whatever strikes your creativity is game. Some recipes call for using muhammara as a stuffing, or a combo of this paste with ground meat, previously fried with onions and spices.
The only caveat is that you will need to figure on an extra day to get the meat ready. The ground meat filling can be done just thirty minutes before, so it depends on your time and preferences.
Kibbeh SajiyehJoumana Accad Mediterranean, Middle Eastern March 2, 2021 Whole Grain/Bulgur/Rice, Main Dish, Meats, traditional foods, kibbeh, kibbeh sajieh, meat pies, bulgur #1, lebanese food,
Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 1 1/2 hours+10 minutes
1 1/4 cup bulgur #1
1 pound extra lean meat, beef or lamb (I used beef, eye of round)
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1/4 cup red pepper paste (optional)
Spices: 1 tsp each or to taste: cumin, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and 1/2 tsp turmeric, cardamom, coriander, Aleppo pepper
1 1/2 pound beef roast (I used sirloin tip), cut into chunks
1 large onion, quartered or chopped
2 or 3 garlic cloves, chopped or mashed
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red pepper paste or chili paste
1 or more red bell pepper or chili pepper (to taste)
1 to 2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
Salt, to taste, black pepper to taste, cumin to taste
1 pot of yogurt (16 ounces)
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, mashed with salt
2 Tbsp tahini (optional)
A. Prepare the meat filling:
- In a large pot, over medium heat, brown the meat chunks in the bit of oil, adding the onion and spices. Cover with water and simmer gently for one hour or longer until the meat is very tender. I added the red pepper paste, garlic, and red bell pepper (previously charred or broiled and peeled) midway through the cooking.
- Cool the meat stew a bit, taste to adjust the seasonings, and transfer it to the bowl of a food processor; pulse a few times until the meat is shredded. It should be a compact mass of shredded meat, moist and full of flavor. Transfer to a bowl and set it aside until the kibbeh dough is ready. This can be done a day or two ahead.
B. Prepare the kibbeh dough:
- Soak the bulgur in water for five or ten minutes. Process the meat (cut into chunks) in the machine until it turns into a compact and smooth paste. Remove the meat and set aside.
- Place the quartered onion in the food processor and purée it; drain the bulgur and press on it to remove most of the water and transfer it to the food processor bowl. Sprinkle the spices over the bulgur and onion and process for a few minutes to combine the onion and bulgur into a compact dough. Now add the meat paste (and red pepper paste if using) and process until the bulgur and meat have melded into a nice firm and moist mass. If needed (I always add it), add one or two ice cubes while running the machine. This is in case the mixture is too dry and hard. Remove the kibbeh dough from the food processor bowl, and knead it a bit by hand if necessary.
C. Shape the kibbeh:
- Divide the kibbeh dough in half and spread a long piece of wax paper on the counter. Place the kibbeh on the paper and flatten it into a circle. Place another piece of paper over it, and using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is about 1/2 cm thick (1/8"in). Using the rim of a glass, cut circles in the dough. Place a mound of filling on the circles, about one tablespoon or so. Now repeat the operation with the remaining kibbeh dough, cutting circles. Now cover the circles with the filling with the other circles, pressing all around the rim to make sure the kibbeh sajeeyyeh are tightly closed.
- Transfer each kibbeh onto a greased cookie sheet. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) and brush each kibbeh with a generous amount of olive oil. Bake for about 10 minutes until shiny and stiff. Serve right away with the sauce, or cool and store in a container in the fridge.
- To make the sauce: mix the garlic paste and tahini (if using) with the yogurt and serve on the side.
The spices I use are my personal preference; my grandmother and all cooks of her generation only used salt, black pepper and allspice and cinnamon. Then came the seven-spice devotees. Use whatever your taste buds require.
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