Did you know that nearly every cuisine around the world has some type of meatball? Well, in Syria and Lebanon the traditional meatball is KIBBEH. The common thread between most meatballs is that they have some sort of grain, or filler in them. What I love about Kibbeh is that the filler is actually the pure wheat itself. Bulgur Wheat. It gets soaked overnight in water until it puffs up and is ready to incorporate into a recipe. But, what I love about that process is that more flavor can be enhanced into the recipe at hand, by adding flavor to the water in which the bulgur wheat is going to drink up!
Meatballs are an easy to prepare meal, and one that allows for lots to be made for future cooking, time is scarce.
Kibbeh is traditionally eaten with plain, full fat yogurt, (the real deal). In the recipe I am preparing for you, I like to take that addition a step further and borrow a dish from Greece, Tzatziki. It lends itself to become a sort of salad alongside the meat, just in case you have little else to serve with it!
Makes a 9×12 inch pan, or 2 dozen balls
– Ground lamb – 2 pounds
– Bulgur wheat – 11/2 cups (also called cracked wheat)
– Cinnamon – 11/2 teaspoons
– Salt – 1 teaspoon (for kibbeh)
– Marjoram or Oregano – 1 teaspoon
– Black cumin – optional 1 teaspoon
– Lemon juice – 1 whole lemon
– Garlic – 2 cloves, crushed
– Salt – 11/2 teaspoon (for wheat)
– Water – enough to cover the wheat
Place the wheat, lemon juice, crushed garlic, and 11/2 teaspoons salt into a bowl and cover with water. Cover and let set overnight.
Place the lamb into a bowl, and break up the meat. Squeeze all the liquid out of the wheat and add to the meat. Slowly begin to squeeze and knead the meat and wheat together, adding a little of the spices as you go, until all the spices are incorporated and you can barely see the difference between the wheat and the meat. Squeeze and knead, and squeeze and knead. Roll into little footballs. Press your thumb down the center to make room for the stuffing.
– Onion – 1 large onion minced into tiny bits
– Pine nuts – 8 ounces
– Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon
– Salt – ½ teaspoon
– Butter – 4 ounces
Melt butter. Add onions and cook on medium covered until soft. Add pine nuts and spices. Stir and cook open until the nuts begin to take a little bit of color. Turn off and let cool.
Place a small spoon (1/2 teaspoon size) into each cavity of lamb balls. Squeeze the open hole closed.
Place in a baking pan/dish, in a preheated 350 degrees oven, and bake for 25 to 40 minutes, depending on how large you made the kibbeh balls. You want the outer color to begin to brown but not over cooked.