Recipe: Kibbeh Nayeh From the Kitchen Window column

Kibbeh Nayeh

The delicate flavor of this Middle Eastern tartare telegraphs "special occasion." Any leftovers (which are unlikely) can be spiked with dried mint leaves, shaped into patties and pan-fried. This recipe is adapted from A Taste of Syria by my relatives Virginia Jerro Gerbino and Philip M. Kayal (Second Edition 2009).

Kibbeh nayeh can be served with fresh herbs and pomegranate seeds (above), or drizzles of olive oil and sliced onion. Tony Gerbino hide caption

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Tony Gerbino

Makes 12 appetizer servings

1 pound very lean ground lamb, preferably from the leg

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup fine bulgur wheat (No. 1, or fine, grind)

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and grated

In a large bowl, add the salt to the meat and mix well with your hands. Place the wheat in a second bowl, cover with cold water, and immediately drain well. Refrigerate both for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, add a little more than half the wheat to the meat and knead gently, wetting your hands occasionally with cold water to moisten the mixture. Add about half the onion and knead again. Taste the mixture. Continue to add wheat and onion until the texture is firm but not stiff and until the taste is to your liking. Adjust salt, if needed.

Remove the mixture from the bowl and flatten onto a platter, patting gently with moist hands to smooth the meat. Use the back of a fork to make decorative lines across the meat. Garnish with parsley. Serve with pita bread, onion slices and olive oil.