Baked Lebanese Kibbeh
1 cup fine-grain bulgur wheat
450g lamb mince (ground lamb)
¼ cup grated onion
1 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted and ground OR 1 tsp ground cumin
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1 ½-2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
½ cup ice water
3 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for oiling the pan
2 cups sliced onions, ¼ inch thick
½ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
Rinse the bulgur well, then cover with cold water and soak for 20 minutes. Drain well.
Put the drained bulgur, lamb, grated onion, cumin and cayenne in a large mixing bowl. Season with 2 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper. Mix well with your hands to distribute seasoning. With a wooden spoon, beat in about ½ cup ice water. The mixture should be smooth and soft. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a cast iron or heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and fry gently, stirring occasionally until they soften, about 5 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper. Raise the heat and add ¼ cup of the lamb mixture. Continue frying, allowing the meat to get crumbly and the onions to brown nicely, another 10 minutes or so. Stir in the pine nuts and taste. Season as needed. Let cool to room temperature.
Heat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas 4. Lightly oil a shallow 9×13 inch baking dish, then press half the remaining uncooked lamb mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. Spread half of the room temperature, cooked onion-pine nut mixture over the meat. Add the rest of the uncooked meat to the pan, patting and pressing with wet hands, to make a smooth top. If desired, score the top with a sharp paring knife to make a traditional diamond pattern at least ½-inch dep.
Bake uncovered for 35-45 minutes, until the top is golden. Spread with the remaining onion-pine nut mixture. Serve warm, at room temperature or cool, ad desired.