June 13, 2012  •  Category:


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
  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
NOTE: The  rosto should still be pink inside.


21 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Jamie says:

    Joumana, I love this! I think grinding the meat and turning it into a kind of mousse makes it more tender and moist to eat. And more flavorful because it can be spiced. Wonderful! And beautiful presentation.

  2. Lyndsey@TinySkillet says:

    This looks very good, I like the spices to flavor it. Do you eat it warm or room temp? I would be nice for lunch, I’m hungry! 🙂

  3. Caffettiera says:

    This dish sounds perfect for a picnic, indeed. It must taste great when cold as well.

  4. Rick says:

    Thanks Joumana! How about the gravy that you display next to the rosto in the picture? Can you please post that also?

    • Joumana says:

      @Rick: The gravy is part of the recipe; you will collect the broth at the end of cooking (with all the herbs and meat juices) and strain it; in a saucepan, bring that broth to a boil along with 1/4 cup of water in which you have dissolved 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Stir continuously for 2 minutes till thick. Serve alongside the rosto.

      @Lyndsey: You can eat it warm or at room temp.

      @Mark: Do tell!! Your dish reminds me a bit of a Kurdish kibbeh I am discovering recently. The village is in the Shouf (of course!) and I ran into Mo3allem Philippe there (who is shown in the reflection) to discuss the orchard! He is a seasoned farmer and I promised him I would go visit him in his valley and extract all his wisdom (and his wife’s: she spends the day in the fields and tells me drinks a glass of her homemade arak at night before going to bed!)
      @Mark: Great! I am excited to see your version! Good luck on the jury duty! Hope it does not last forever! 🙂

  5. domi says:

    Quel superbe visuel pour cette délicieuse roulade….ça en jette un max….

  6. Mark Wisecarver says:

    This one I’ve never had. For us the habra would have snoo-ber (Pine nuts) and by-thot (Eggs, scrambled) in the center but they would be hand formed, like kibby. (Kras mish-wee-yee?)
    Love that foto at the bottom, is there a story? 🙂

  7. Belinda @zomppa says:

    What a great dish! Could totally see this at a picnic, and love the egg in the middle.

  8. Tim Vidra says:

    I really like the look of this. It has a pate’ feel to it and I love pate’!

  9. Mark Wisecarver says:

    I’ve been wanting to make it again, with ground Turkey, so I’ll create a blog post for it and you can help me name it. 😉
    I’ve got Federal Jury Duty starting in a few days, for the third time!

  10. jantonio says:

    Magnífico rollo de carne. Me encantan esos aromas.
    Un saludo.

  11. MaryMoh says:

    I love how beautiful this dish looks. You make it sounds so easy to make. Thanks very much for showing the steps in pictures. Would make a great party dish!

  12. Pierre says:

    Question: Do you brown it in the cheesecloths? And keep it through the braising process?

    • Joumana says:

      @Pierre: Yes, you brown it with the cheesecloth and keep it in throughout; I should have been more clear, thanks for asking!

  13. Rick says:


    Do you accept special requests for recipes? If so, can you please post some Lebanese “cocktails” especially avocado?

    Thanks in advance,

  14. Pierre says:

    I made it with chicken mince today. It came out a little dry.

    Not sure if some finely diced onions would help, or if the braising process for chicken should be reduced.

    Happy with the first attempt though.

    • Joumana says:

      @Pierre: It is a little dry with chicken, so what I have done is add more things to it, like egg yolks to give it some moisture. I will add this tip to the post.

  15. Oui, Chef says:

    This reminds me of ballotines I used to make at LCB, though generally they were poached, and not browned and braised. Love your version for the way it will develop a rush flavor and fond for a beautiful sauce.

  16. Susan says:

    What a pretty presentation it makes and sounds delicious with the nuts and carrots inside. I love the last photo! So many interesting things to see 🙂

  17. Pierre says:

    Remade it with the egg yolk and braised it for only 25-30 minutes.

    I like the carrots to retain some crunch.


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