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Monday, December 3, 2012


Kibbeh is a delicious Lebanese dish somewhat similar to American meatloaf in that the meat is extended to feed more by adding a grain. Unlike American meatloaf where bread or cracker crumbs are used (and soak up those great meat juices) Kibbeh relies on whole grain wheat in the form of bulghur. Bulghur is chopped and roasted whole wheat and can be found at finer grocery stores, ethnic markets, cooperatives, and specialty stores all around the country. The addition of whole grain gives the dish an ethnic flare, but the flavors are not so pronounced or unusual as to turn off the average ‘Meat and Potatoes’ American. Serve Kibbeh with any vegetable side dish of your choice, but always with a dollop of plain yoghurt, since the tartness of the yoghurt is the absolute perfect accompaniment. Kibbeh is a clever way to sneak whole grains into the family diet, but it also great for family gatherings since it travels well, can be made ahead, and is equally good hot out of the oven or at room temperature.


3 oz. unsalted butter
3 1/2 oz. pine nuts
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 lb. lean beef or lamb  
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2  teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
3/4 to 1 teaspoon sea salt

Over medium-low heat in a large, shallow fry pan, melt butter and add pine nuts.  Stir constantly until pine nuts are golden brown, do not leave unattended, as pine nuts are easy to burn. Remove from pan and set aside.
Increase heat to medium and add onion to pan with the residual butter and cook just until soft and transparent.  Add the lean ground meat, being sure to break up any lumps and cook just until no longer pink.  Remove from the heat, season with cinnamon, allspice, pepper and salt to taste.  Stir in the pine nuts.  Allow filling to cool in pan.


2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
2 lbs. ground chuck or ground lamb
14 oz. fine burghul (chopped and roasted whole wheat)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sea salt

¼ cup cold butter, sliced thin

small bowl of water

  1. Preheat oven to 400ยบ F.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, add the burghul and cover with cold water and carefully pour off to rinse, repeat. Wash the wheat 2-3 times in this manner being careful not to pour out the burghul with the excess water. On the last rinse, pour off as much water as possible and squeeze out the excess water by hand, reserving as much of the burghul as possible.
  3. Add the raw ground meat, cinnamon, allspice, pepper, salt and water. Mix together by hand, then run the mixture through a meat grinder with a medium hole grinder plate once or twice.  Alternatively use a food processor in small batches to thoroughly integrate the bulghur into the rmeat, be careful not to over process and turn the mixture to paste.  
  4. Grease the sides and bottom of a deep 12” diameter round pizza pan with butter or non-stick spray. Alternatively, a 9”x13” baking dish can be used.
  5. The recipe is assembled in three layers: a bottom layer of kibbeh, a middle section of stuffing, and a top layer of kibbeh. To begin, divide the kibbeh mixture into two equal parts.

  6. Layer 1: The raw meat is easier to work with wet hands, so moisten hand and begin to layer in the first half of the kibbeh mixture into the bottom of the greased pan. It works well to flatten small pieces gently between your palms to about ½-inch thick, overlapping sections a bit until the entire bottom of the pan is covered. Smooth the top of the mixture with wet hands to create an even layer.

    Layer 2: Spread the stuffing evenly over the bottom layer of kibbeh.

    Layer 3: Flatten and lay pieces of kibbeh on top of the stuffing in the same fashion as the bottom of the pan. The top layer will take a bit more effort since the stuffing creates a more uneven surface, so use wet hands to create as smooth a top layer as possible.

  7. Cut the pie into quarters, use a sharp knife to make shallow incisions through the meat, to goal is to score the kibbeh in a geometric pattern creating either diamonds or squares in a decorative manner; this makes the presentation more appealing, but also allows the butter to penetrate through to the lower layers as it melts.  Prior to placing in the oven, evenly place the sliced butter over the top of the kibbeh. At this point the kibbeh can be refrigerated and cooked later, bring to room temperature before baking or increase bake time as needed.
  8. Bake at 400° for 30 to 40 minutes in the middle of the oven.  Kibbeh should have a rich brown top when done, if the meat has pulled away from the sides of the dish and it is bubbly but the top is not yet browned, place it under the broiler to enhance the color a bit, but be careful not to burn it.
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature with a side of labneh, Arabic yoghurt (plain Greek yoghurt is delicious too.)

1 comment:

  1. Kibbeh is one of my ABSOLUTE favourite. Lebanese and Yemeni cuisine both have such wonderful dishes in the Arabic food world. Thanks for your post! I am always on the hunt for the perfect kibbeh recipe. Will keep you updated!

    Warm hugs,