Kibbeh is a beloved dish throughout the Middle East. It always features lamb, bulgur wheat, onions, and a collection of warm spices, and is typically shaped into torpedo croquettes and fried or baked. Lebanon makes a raw version like a steak tartar. I have no personal history with this dish, but I respect chef Yotam Ottolenghi enough to follow his direction to make an “Open Kibbeh,” where he reimagines a kibbeh as a meat pie in a springform pan, topping it with a tangy tahini/lemon sauce and pine nuts. This was a triumph of complex, yet accessible flavors.

Make sure to convert your metric ingredients in this recipe, if need be. Soak 4.38 oz. of bulgur wheat in 6.75 oz. water for 30 minutes. Because bulgur is precooked, it need only be soaked like this. Instead of using a green chilli, I used a kid-friendly bell pepper. The recipe asks for 12.33 oz. ground lamb, so I ground my own (in the food processor) from a 1.18 lb. lamb round steak. Once you add the ground spices to the sauteed vegetables and meat -- allspice and cinnamon and coriander -- you’ll enjoy the magical scents that Ottolenghi always pulls together.

The recipe asks for 2 Tbsp. self-raising flour to be added to the soaked bulgur. What I did to achieve this was to add a tiny amount (.125 tsp.) of baking powder and a pinch of salt to 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour. After the meat pie bakes for 20 minutes, you’ll pour on your 1.75 oz. tahini, lemon juice, and 1.67 oz. water, which will melt into the pie and give it a perfectly sharp tanginess. Sumac is then the magical dust that gets sprinkled on top. This warm, woodsy spice smells like pine and raisins. The recipe’s finale asks for a drizzle of olive oil atop the pie at the end. This can never be wrong.

Enjoy the kitchen project that is this recipe: the measuring, the assembly. And see how quickly it gets eaten!

PRICES
Onions (2) = $1.08
Lamb Round Steak (1.18 lb.) = $11.65

RECIPE: an exciting undertaking produces a delicious meat pie
PREP TIME:
devote 90 minutes to the prep and soaking and baking of this dish, then it will allow you to cool it to room temperature before you eat it
TASTE:
bulgur is warm and cozy, as is lamb and all these spices; tahini, lemon, pine nuts, and olive oil keep the pie awake and alive

Next time, I will cook the “Crispy Tofu with Sesame Asparagus and Hoisin Dipping Sauce,” from the June/July 2012 issue of Fine Cooking, along with the “Sesame Almond Brown Rice Balls,” from 101cookbooks.com. Come back to my site soon, to see what happens here.