I’ve done my share of pureeing proteins in the FoPro.
Fish. Bacon. Lamb. Mostly, it’s a very bad idea, as one might imagine. So there’s only really one thing that will get me to put meat in a food processor today, and that’s the promise of kibbeh (an Arabic dish based on bulgur wheat and ground meat).
Yes, I’ve Smacked Down kibbeh before. But there are countless regional variants of kibbeh, and I would be doing both you and me a disservice if I tried to pretend that a single attempt at kibbeh covered all the iterations of the dish.* Do you WANT me to do you a disservice? Is that why you’re here? I DIDN’T THINK SO.
*At least, that’s what I tell myself when it seems like cheating to double up on the kibbeh.
Plus, kibbeh is comforting, and I could use a little comforting tonight. If you poked your head in last night looking for a Top Chef liveblog, you read a little bit about my shitstorm of a day, which is really more a shitstorm of a week. So I need dinner to nurture me. I also need an extra large vodka gimlet and a palmful of tranqs, but I guess I’ll just go with The Power of Kibbeh. Specifically, a baked kibbeh with caramelized onion and pine nut topping from Claudia Roden’s Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon.
So: meat. FoPro. When you puree lamb up with onions, bulgur, cinnamon and some salt and pepper, you get an incredibly disgusting grayish-pink paste that makes you seriously wonder if the effort is going to be worth it; so much does it look like dog spew.
I patted the mix down into a cake tin and scored it into six equal slices. Sadly, this did not help it to look any less foul, just…neater; organized poop is still poop. Luckily, at this point it goes into the oven and you don’t have to look at it again until it’s brown and crisp around the edges, at which point it goes from “foul” to “fabulous.” Such is the power of the Maillard reaction.
While it baked, I put together the topping: a pound of onions, caramelized, then mixed with pine nuts, cinnamon, allspice, salt and pepper. If the promise of kibbeh hadn’t done enough to lift my mood, this was all that was necessary for an extra boost – there are few smells I love more than then smell of sauteing onions.*
I also threw together a quick yogurt and tahini dip, into which I may have put a little too much garlic. No worries, though, I’m currently covering up my garlic breath with coffee breath, so I should be eminently kissable in a few minutes. Hear that, Brian?
*Also: sauteing garlic (duh), freshly ground coffee, the smell of a bonfire, and gasoline. Yes, gasoline. No, I don’t know why. Surely, there is something deeply abnormal about you as well, you’re just not advertising it.
The kibbeh came out of the oven about 35 minutes (plus a few minutes under the broiler) later, brown and crisp as promised. I removed the slices to a platter and heaped the onion and pine nut mix on top.
Normally, I actually enjoy taking pictures of my food, and I don’t really mind that I don’t get to eat immediately or that my food might be a little lukewarm. Tonight? RESENTMENT CITY, because this looked and smelled so good that I wanted to eat RIGHT FUCKING NOW. GET IN ME, KIBBEH.
And holy mackerel, was it good. Crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, fragrant with cinnamon, smothered in sweet onions and crunchy, buttery pine nuts. The garlicky, lemony tahini dip brightened up the flavor without overpowering the kibbeh, while some toasted pita wedges helped tame the garlic flavor. A mouthful of meat, onion, yogurt dip and pita was perfection.
Best of all, this version of kibbeh was far less time- and energy-intensive than the last version I tried; the worst part of the whole process was washing the clingy bits of meat paste from inside the FoPro. No forming individual meatballs, no deep frying – just puree, bake and enjoy, with a recipe so simple I probably won’t need to consult the book again.
And you know what? I feel better, I really do. That’s the power of food, people.