It’s been said that diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
I say diamonds are a girl’s (and boy’s) best friend when they’re made out of meat!
I think I was really missing my family last week, ’cause I dug into some Lebanese family favorites. I had cravings for tahini dressing… and turned my spinach into Lemony Spinach… and I transformed ground lamb in Kibbeh Sinayee, a.k.a. baked lebanese meatloaf, a.k.a., Lamb Diamonds.
This recipe has multi-steps and is potentially on the fussier side of things – but the little bit of extra time required pays off BIG TIME in taste. Basically, you make a sort of lamb paté and a crumbled lamb filling, then you layer them in a pan and bake. Authentic kibbeh uses cracked wheat as a binder. It makes the meatloaf portion tender to the bite and adds a slight nutty flavor. I replaced the cracked wheat with riced (defrosted frozen) cauliflower, and it worked just great!
This kibbeh tastes awesome hot out of the oven or at room temperature. And like other homemade goodies, the flavors improve it if sits in the fridge for a day or two. I might have eaten some directly from the fridge with my hands at snack time. Maybe.
Here’s the end result. See? Diamond shapes!
Kibbeh Sinayee (Lamb Diamonds!)
1 cup steamed fresh or frozen cauliflower
2 medium onions
2 pounds ground lamb
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried mint leaves
1 teaspoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon plus 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon ghee, coconut oil or other saturated fat
1-2 tablespoons pine nuts
Directions:1. Place cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until it’s the consistency of rice. Be careful! You don’t want it to mash. When it’s the right size, place in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
2. Peel one of the onions and cut into large dice. Place in the bowl of the food processor and add 1 pound lamb, allspice, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, mint, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Process on high until it starts to become paté-like, scraping down the bowl occasionally to make sure everything gets incorporated. Take a sniff and inhale the earthy mint and cumin smells! Awesome.
3. When you’re happy with the texture, add the lamb mixture to the bowl with the cauliflower, wet your hands, and mix well until the cauliflower is distributed evenly in the lamb paté. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
4. Time to make the filling! Heat the cooking fat in a large skillet over medium-high heat, about 2-3 minutes. Peel the remaining onion and cut into a very small dice, then sauté the onion, pine nuts, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper until the onion is translucent and soft, and the pine nuts are beginning to brown, about 7-10 minutes.
5. Crumble 1 pound of ground lamb into the pan, breaking up the chunks with a wooden spoon and sautéeing until it’s no longer pink. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the meat filling to come to room temperature.
Assembling the Diamonds:
1. Heat the oven to 400F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch round pan with a little coconut oil or ghee.
2. Place half the “lamb paté” in the bottom of the pan. Wet your hands and smooth the kibbeh until it’s an even layer. Spoon all of the lamb+pine nut filling on top of the kibbeh base; spread evenly.
4. Place the remaining paté on top of the lamb filling, wet your hands, and smooth the kibbeh over the filling to make a pie.
5. Hold a sharp knife under cold running water, then use it to make diamond patterns on the top of the kibbeh sinayee.
6. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until browned and firm. Remove and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing and eating. If you decide to let it “mature” in the fridge, which I recommend you do, just cover with foil and re-heat in a 300F oven for 15-20 minutes or until hot.
Tastes Great With…
To make this into a feast, serve it with any of these guys:
Lemony Spinach a la TMJ
Lettuce, tomato, and cucumber drizzled with tahini dressing
Cauliflower Frouscous Pilaf
Moroccan Orange Salad
|This is the lamb “paté” that forms the crust.|
|The bottom layer spread in the pan.|
|The lamb+pine nut filling.|
|Ready to go into the oven.|
|Ready to eat!|
Also, it’s not Lebanese or about food, but I couldn’t resist this video. WHO COULD RESIST THIS VIDEO?
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