Kibbe refers to a variety of “meat balls” from the Middle East that are prepared with ground meat, cracked wheat and spices and that are either fried, baked, stewed, BBQ’d or, ehemm, eaten raw (Kibbe Nayyeh).
There are probably as many different ways of preparing and cooking Kibbe as there are ways to spell it: Kibbe, Kibbeh, Kibbi, Kubbeh, Kebbeh etc…and let’s not forget the vegetarian Kibbe varieties as well which are made from chickpeas or squash.
Lebanese villages boast dozens of different Kibbe recipes and we’re featuring here the “Lebanese Kibbe Mishwiyyeh” aka “Kibbe E’rass” aka, stuffed and grilled Kibbe. The “dough” we use in this recipe is similar to many other Kibbe recipes. It is made with 100% lean ground meat (preferably goat, if not, lamb or beef is ok), cracked wheat (burghul aka bulgur), and some spices.
Once the “dough” is ready, it is then flattened into patties of 1/3 inch thickness, then a stuffing is placed in the middle. You now have the bottom layer. As for the upper layer of the Kibbe which looks like a dome, one way to make it is to wet a plastic sheet and place it inside a medium size spice bowl. Then flatten/press a bit of Kibbe dough on the inside to 1/3 inch thickness, or less, and thus covering the entire inside of the cup. Finally press the cup on the bottom layer pattie you made earlier and then pull away then lift up the plastic sheet outwardly to lift the cup from the molded kibbe. This may take a bit of practice initially.
- 1 lb of lean ground goat meat (or lean beef thigh meat)
- 1.5 cups of thin light + dark mixed Burghul (cracked wheat)
- 1 medium size red onion
- ¼ bunch of green mint (leaves only)
- a few leaves of wild green marjoram (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon powder
- ½ table spoon salt
- ½ table spoon Arabic 7-spices
- 4 cubes of ice
- 5 ounces of goat or lamb fat (you can also use beef fat) **
- 1.5 medium size red onions
- ½ bunch parsley (stems cut away)
- ½ bunch mint (stems cut away)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon of hot chilli Powder or to taste
- Add all Kibbe Dough ingredients to the food processor with 4 cubes of ice, but except for the Burghul we’ll add it later.
- Run on high speed for about 2-3 minutes until everything is well blended together and the meat turns doughy and sticky. We used ice so the meat doesn’t heat up and cook.
- Rinse the Burghul and dry it well with a paper towel then add to a bowl where you would mix and knead it well with the Kibbe paste from the food processor.
- Take resulting dough back for a quick 1 minute food processor run. Your Kibbe dough is now ready for molding.
- Cut the fat into small chunks, add to food processor along with all other stuffing ingredients and grind at high speed for about 3-5 minutes. You will get a better texture if the fat is grounded while still frozen. You now have the stuffing ready.
- Use a shallow spice bowl (about 6-8 ounces in size) or equivalent to mold the Kibbe. And to speed up the process, you could split the Kibbe dough into small rolls/balls a bit larger than a golf ball.
- Make sure that your hands are wet with water when you’re molding the Kibbe so it doesn’t stick
- Wet a plastic sheet (cellophane) with water and flatten a chunk of Kibbe dough on it into a ⅓ inch patty
- Add 1 to 1.5 table spoons of stuffing in the middle of the patty
- Place another wet sheet of plastic in the spice bowl, take another chunk of Kibbe dough and spread it evenly inside that bowl and press it against its insides to a ⅓ inch thickness
- Place Kibbeh mold on top of the flattened kibbeh patty and press downward until you cut through.
- Slowly pull plastic sheet away then lift up from the spice bowl
- Gently turn over Kibbeh “head” away from the other plastic sheet and place on a lightly oiled aluminum foil or plate. Your Kibbeh “head” is now ready to be cooked.
- Once ready grill kibbe “heads” on BBQ grill for about 30-40 minutes (or bake in Oven)
- Be careful carrying the raw Kibbe head to the grill as they can collapse easily.
- If you make extra Kibbe heads and you want to store them do the following:
- Lay them on a tray in a freezer overnight
- Once frozen, place them in airtight ziplog bags back in the freezer. They can last 3-6 months.
- Once ready for cooking, place the frozen Kibbe head on the grill (no need to thaw it) and cook for 40 minutes until light brown.