Lebanese Food, Kibbeh Nayeh Recipe

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Lebanese Food, Kibbeh Nayeh


Kibbeh Nayeh, tartare of Lebanon, is specially prepared spiced raw meat with bulgur. The ratio of cracked wheat to meat is 1:1, so you can adjust quantities easily. I always make much more raw kibbeh than we are going to eat because I want to bake or fry it the next day. This recipe is for a manageable 2 pounds of meat, but I make as much as 5 pounds to provide for day 2 of kibbeh-love.


2 cups fine bulgur (#1)
2 pounds leg of lamb or eye of round beef, trimmed entirely of all fat and gristle
1-2 tablespoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 medium sweet onion, pureed
1-2 cups ice water
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Fresh mint leaves


1 Rinse the bulghur in cold water, drain, and cover to 1⁄2 inch with cold water. Soak for 1⁄2 hour, or until the bulghur is softened.

2 Either ask the butcher to grind the meat for you (three times on sterile blades), or grind it yourself. To grind meat, slice the trimmed meat into rectangles, about 4x2 inches. Season lightly with salt and pepper and freeze for 30 minutes. Grind the meat once on the fine/small holes on the grinder, or twice on the large holes.

3 To combine the kibbeh meat, keep a small bowl of ice water nearby to keep hands wet and cold. In a large bowl, knead the meat with the pureed onion and about half of the cracked wheat. If there is any visible water left in the cracked wheat from soaking, squeeze it out of the wheat before adding it to the kibbeh. Dip hands in water as you knead, adding about 1⁄4 cup of the water in total; be careful not to add too much water to the kibbeh or it will become mushy rather than simply soft. Add the wheat 1⁄2 cup at a time until it’s fully incorporated. Season with salt, pepper, cayenne and cinnamon, tasting and adjusting the seasoning.

4 To serve, shape traditionally, on an oval platter, form the kibbeh into an oval dome and press a cross into with the the tip of your finger, adding fresh mint for garnish (or simply flatten the kibbeh on a plate and decorate using the tip of a spoon or tines of a fork). Sweet onion, toasted pine nuts, and mint are excellent garnishes. Serve with pita bread and labneh (thickened yogurt).

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