Sunday, December 2, 2007

Baked Kibbe 'n Bits 'n Bits 'n Bits

If you get the joke, pat yourself on the back!

Anyhow, I had a decision to make. Since I've won the $2.00/Day contest that I was recently in, should I soldier on with the same budget? I weighed a couple of things in my decision making. The first is that I didn't feel deprived at all while on the $2.00/day budget. Number two, I was prepared to do this for much longer than just a week and had prepared a list of possible dishes. Those dishes are still there and are still waiting to be cooked. My final decision was to cook as cheaply as possible but not try to maintain an arbitrary price ceiling...pretty much what I was doing before the contest started.

edit: George just got home and convinced me to go as long as I can on $2.00/day. I've agreed.
This is kibbe.

Here's how you make it. This recipe is pretty much stolen straight out of this stupefyingly good cookbook. The many arguments for eating more whole grains usually center around the well-documented health benefits; however, I think the best, most convincing argument of all is that they taste good! Well, to me at least. This recipe uses bulgur wheat (to some people...vulgar sweets, inside joke imo). At the store, you'll find different grades of bulgur wheat...they range from 1-4. The grades aren't in any way indicative of quality. Instead, they refer to the grind...the higher the number, the more coarse the grind. This recipe uses #1 fine grind although I think #2 would also be fine.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Measure out one cup of bulgur wheat. Here's what it looks like dry:
Bring a little over 1 cup of water to a boil. Add a large pinch of salt to the water. Throw in the bulgur wheat, give it a stir and turn off the heat. Cover the pot and leave the bulgur wheat alone for ten minutes.

While you're waiting for the wheat, rough chop one onion and throw it into a food processor. Blend. (I really love this picture...the onions look like snow!)

Take 1/2 of 1 largish bunch of Italian parsley. Pick the leaves off, give them a thorough wash to get rid of any dirt and throw them into the pureed onion. Blend again to combine the parsley with the onion. Add some seasoning. The recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1/4 teaspoon of ground all spice and a bit of cayenne. I used 1.5 teaspoons of ras-el-hanout and a large pinch of cayenne pepper. Here's what you should have:
By now, the bulgur should have re-hydrated. You'll notice the fork. Just use it to loosen the grains...fluff them up. Here's a close-up:
Blend the onion mixture with the bulgur wheat. If you've got a mini food processor like I do, you might have to do this in two batches. Here's what you're left with:Add 1 pound of ground beef...this recipe is originally for lamb but beef is a fine substitute:
All right. Some of you are probably freaking out a little bit. Wheat grains and beef? WTF? It's not all that strange...if you've ever made meatloaf or meatballs, you'll know what I mean. Meatballs usually have breadcrumbs in them, right? This is just an extension of that...don't get your undies all in a bundle! Blend the meat and onion/wheat mixture. Blend it well. USE YOUR HANDS. Get dirty...have a little fun. and.........voila:
It's gonna need salt. Add a few heavy pinches. Whenever I make meatballs, meatloaf, I ALWAYS microwave a bit and taste for seasoning. That way, you'll know what you've got. Do this, taste for seasoning and add more if needed. I found that mine needed a little bit more cayenne pepper.

Take your seasoned mixture and spread it into a lightly oiled, oven safe pan. You can use some baking dishes if that's what you have handy.Cook until the middle is no longer pink. I cooked mine for 30 minutes and it was fine. You might need a little bit longer.
It shrinks a bit and also leeches out some oil. I chose to pour the oil off. Let cool for a bit.

While the kibbe is cooling, get some stuff ready for pita pockets. I had some romaine lettuce. I wish I had a tomato as well. Tear/cut the veggies into bite size chunks. Make a dressing for the romaine (and/or tomato)...if all you have is lemon juice and olive oil, that'd be fine. Doesn't have to be fancy, just squeeze the lemon over the veggies, drizzle a bit of oil and mix. Sprinkle with salt. I used tahini and lemon juice. For my taste, the lemon juice is really helps perk up the kibbe.

Grab a pita bread and open it up. Stuff it with the dressed vegetables and some chunks/scoops of the meat. Here's what you should have: Closer:
Extremely close!
Man, these things are GREAT. I will be having another tomorrow.

Time: Let's see...I came into the kitchen, turned the radio on and started listening to the Rabin recording of Paganini #1...the mono recording, not the stereo. Did all the dishes and started cooking. By the time the concerto ended, the kibbe was in the oven. Wait...what? This isn't helping you? Classical music nerds are at an advantage here.

Food cost:
$0.37- Wheat
$2.00- Beef
$0.60 Incidentals
$2.97- Total...will serve PLENTY of people. Lots of pita pockets...


Brittany said...

That looks really good! I'll have to give it a try...

Max said...

Hmm... I have to try that as well...

I've never done my own pita either so it should be fun....

Btw can you just cook the Bulgur in a pot as usual? Why go all the way of heating the owen?

Mike Czyzewski said...

Brittany- please do. it's ridiculously easy and very, very tasty.

max- i assume you're referring to whether you cook the kibbe on top of a stove vs. in the oven...

i was thinking about that the other day...i'm not going to say "yes" or "no" because I don't really know the answer. However, i'd like to try cooking it on the stove top because i think it would allow you to nicely brown the bottom...get some of those crunchy brown bits that taste so good.

maybe flip it over halfway through to brown the other side? i dunno...sounds like an experiment is needed!

Max said...

Aaah... So you put the pan in the oven! :)

I assumed that the pan went on top and thought the pot with the bulgur went in the oven.

I'll try a variant of this tonight. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Mike Czyzewski said...


please do. I'd be curious to see how "user-friendly" my recipes are.

What variations will you be playing with?

Max said...

Ok, I don't have a blender so I've mixed as good as possible.

I used Spinach instead of Italian parsley which might have been a mistake since the parsley is more flavory... I also think I seasoned the whole thing to little.

Anyway. I tried in the oven an as beefs on the stove. I think I prefer them as beefs on the stove.

If I get a blender for christmas I'll try your recipie :)

If I can get the seasoning right this might be a very good meal.