Wonderful Middle Eastern kibbeh make great finger foods for any occasion.
A staple in Middle Eastern cooking, kibbeh are fried (or baked) meat dumplings flavoured with a blend of herbs and spices. They make wonderful snacks and appetizers, and go great served with sauces and dips like labneh, hummus, and even tzatziki or tirokafteri to name a few.
Shaped like little footballs, these make perfect snacks when watching the big game, or anytime you need to serve a group of hungry friends.
Typically, kibbeh uses ground beef or lamb, but I like to do a mix of beef and pork or beef and veal. It adds a little more depth to the flavour of the meat and is a personal preference. If you don't want to go to the trouble, just use 2 pounds of ground beef.
The other thing to watch for is the type of bulgur you are using. Bulgur comes in different varieties. I use medium in this recipe, but if all you can find is coarse, it will need to be soaked and fried longer.
(Makes 12 servings | 2 kibbeh per serving)
1, 1/2 cups medium bulgur
3 cups water
2 sweet onions, 1 chopped, 1 minced
1 pound lean ground beef, divided
1 pound lean ground pork, divided (or veal)
1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
1 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
canola oil (for frying)
In a medium mixing bowl, add the bulgur and water then let it soak for 30 to 40 minutes (longer if using a coarser variety of bulgur). Drain the bulgur, then using a nut milk bag or cheesecloth, squeeze out as much water as possible. Then squeeze a little more.
Add the bulgur, chopped onion, half each of the ground beef and pork, and half of the salt and ground black pepper to a food processor and pulse repeatedly to combine and breakdown the mixture into a smooth 'dough'. Remove the blade and leave the mixture covered in the food processor until needed.
In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the extra-virgin olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the minced onion. Sauté until the onion becomes soft and translucent (about 3 minutes). Add the remaining beef and pork and continue sautéing, breaking up the meat as it browns. Sprinkle with the remaining salt and ground black pepper, as well as the allspice and cumin. Mix well and continue cooking until the meat is thoroughly browned. Remove from heat and set aside to cool down to a temperature that can be handled.
Using a large cookie scoop, scoop out balls of the raw meat (will make roughly 24 balls). With wet hands, take each ball one at a time and poke a hole into the centre. Add some of the cooked meat to the centre, pinch the hole closed and roll in your palms to seal. Pinch the ends to form the football shape. Set aside on a plate.
Using a deep fryer, or in a deep pan, add enough oil to cover the kibbeh and heat to 350°F / 180°C. Fry the kibbeh (in batches as needed) until they are darkly golden brown and the outer shell is crisp. Transfer cooked kibbeh to a paper-lined plate to drain.
Serve with your favourite dips.
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days and reheated in the centre of a 350°F / 180°C oven for 10 to 13 minutes.