The other day me and a few gents ate at a Lebanese restaurant in scenic downtown Troy. Come on now, I see you raising your eyebrow, downtown Troy is actually getting kind of nice. There are lots of really decent little restaurants in vicinity of River Street. As I have been working in Troy, I have been making a point of popping into every place I can find for lunch. This has led to some interesting lunches and gassy afternoons, but we won't get into the curry goat incident of last Wednesday at this time.
The Lebanese restaurant we ate at is called Al Baraki and was highly recommended to us by some guys who work down the hall. As I am wont to do at a new place, I ordered the special which was a kibby wrap. Kibby is the tasty national dish of Lebanon. It is beef/lamb mixed with bulghur, onions, and allspice. Usually it is served in a conical, fried fritter kind of deal. The wrap version I had was some squished Kibby with hummus and pickles on a thin flat bread. After eating this wrap I was instantly converted into a hardcore Kibby enthusiast and decided to eat it at least twice a day for the rest of my life. Following, is my attempt at an at home version that hopefully will save me from daily runs across the river for kibby fixes.
The first step is to soak a good cup or cup and a half of bulghur in cold water for about a half hour. Drain the grains and then squeeze the water out of them (I used a muslin cloth). Along with this you are going to need a pound and a half of lean ground beef, half of a large onion, a teaspoon of allspice, a half teaspoon of cumin, a hearty amount of salt, and pepper to taste.
Take the beef and bulghur with spices and seasonings and pulse in a food processor until well combined. Alternately, pound with a mortar and pestle for an hour until the right consistency is reached, apparently this is the traditional way of doing this business. Afterwards throw in the onion which should be finely minced. At this point you should have a giant meatball. As a footnote, kibby is traditionally eaten raw. Only the leftovers were cooked for the next day's meal. I somehow resisted the urge to go at the raw kibby ball with a fork and a bottle of Tabasco.
I flattened the ball-o-meat into a half inch thick rectangle and cut into square shaped patties.
These guys went into the oven at 450 for 20 minutes on a cookie sheet with oiled parchment. I don't think you want your kibby medium rare, it should be cooked through. When the kibby is done set aside to cool for a little bit. When you will no longer burn your fingers slice a pattie lengthwise into two quarter inch patties. I then took a flat bread, spread it with a couple tablespoons of good quality hummus, slapped down the kibby, and then topped it all off with some paper thin slices of kosher dill pickle.
This gets rolled up tightly into a delicious tube of beef and bulghur filled goodness.
Verdict: My version was no where near as good as the real thing at Al Baraki, but it was a reasonable facsimile and perfectly fine for home consumption. The consistency of my kibby was little firmer then what I had at the restaurant. I think that the cook there used a much fattier ground beef mixture, and I think he might even have browned his kibby on a griddle as opposed to in the oven. I think it will take me a couple more attempts to close in on Al Baraki's product.
Tonight I am plotting what to do with the rack of wild boar's ribs that has fallen into my hands, mwah ha ha.