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Baked Kibbeh
Serves 6-8

For the stuffing

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
30g (1oz) pine nuts
1 large onion (about 285g/10oz), finely chopped
150g (5½oz) lean minced meat, preferably lamb
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
¼ teaspoon black pepper

For the Kibbeh dough

1 onion (about 100g/3½oz)
1¾ teaspoons salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon black pepper
285g (10oz) fine burghol, rinsed and drained
450g (llb) lean ground meat, preferably lamb
75-100ml (3-4fl oz) extra virgin olive oil



Method

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan until hot but not smoking. Add the pine nuts and sauté, stirring constantly until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the onions to the pan and sauté over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes until soft and pale in colour, then add the meat and cook until it is lightly browned. Return the reserved pine nuts to the frying pan, season with cinnamon, salt and black pepper and stir well. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Grease a baking tray (26 x 26cm/10¼ x 10¼in) with 1 tablespoon of oil and set aside. Heat the oven to 190°C (375°F/gas mark 5).

To make the kibbeh dough, blend the onion in a food processor until it forms a creamy paste. Remove from the blender and place in a large bowl, sprinkle and mix with salt, allspice, cinnamon, and black pepper. Squeeze any excess water from the burghol, add to the onion mixture and mix thoroughly until the burghol has absorbed all the seasonings. Add the ground meat and mix well, adding 2-3 tablespoons cold water or more to achieve a smooth paste. Continue kneading until the mixture blends well, using a food processor for a few seconds if necessary. Take small portions of the mixture at a time and make a thin layer 5mm (¼in) on the baking tray.

Spread the stuffing evenly on top, cover with the remaining kibbeh mixture and press to smooth it down. You may find it easier to moisten your hands with cold water. Drizzle the oil all over and quickly run a thin-pointed knife around the edge of the baking dish. Then cut through the kibbeh, dividing it into 4-8 portions (similar to pizza slices), allowing the oil to seep through. To decorate make a criss-cross pattern on the surface of each portion.

Bake in a hot oven for 40 minutes or until browned. Remove from the oven and, while the oil is still bubbling, carefully pour off any excess. Arrange on a platter and eat with a yogurt and cucumber salad.

Reproduced by kind permission of Nada Saleh, from the book Seductive Flavours of the Levant, published by Robson Books; ISBN: 1-86105-446-7
 
 
 
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