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Kibe - Brazilian Fried Meat Balls

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Kibe
Mauro Cateb/Wikimedia Commons

Kibe (pronounced "kee-bee") is a popular Lebanese-style snack in Brazil. A kibe is a football-shaped deep fried "croquette" of beef and bulgur wheat, seasoned with garlic, onions, mint and cinnamon. The raw beef mixture used to make kibe is sometimes enjoyed raw in Brazil (kibe cru).

Serve kibe with lime wedges, tahini sauce for dipping, and cold beer.

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth or water
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup packed mint leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Tahini sauce for dipping

Preparation:

  1. Place bulgur wheat in a heat proof bowl. Bring the beef broth to a boil, remove from heat, and pour over the bulgur wheat. Let wheat rest for 1/2 hour.

  2. Make the filling: Place 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet, and sauté half of the chopped onions, the minced garlic, and the cinnamon and nutmeg. When onions are fragrant and soft, add 1/3 of the ground beef. Cook, stirring until the ground beef is well browned. Stir in the parsley and cook 1-2 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

  3. Drain the bulgur wheat in a colander, pressing down on the wheat with the flat side of a spoon to press out all of the excess liquid.

  4. Place the bulgur wheat in the bowl of a food processor with the remaining (uncooked) ground beef, remaining raw onions, and mint leaves. Add 3/4 teaspoon salt and sprinkle generously with pepper.

  5. Process ground beef mixture until mixture is very smooth, like a dough. If you have time to chill both the uncooked beef mixture and cooked filling for several hours, it will be easier to shape the kibes.

  6. Take golf ball size balls of the uncooked beef mixture and press them flat into the palm of your hand. Place 1 tablespoon of the cooked beef mixture in the middle, then close the "dough" around the filling and seal well. Shape balls into an elongated football-like oval, with pointed ends. Place on a baking sheet until ready to fry.

  7. Heat several inches of oil in a deep pot to 350 degrees. Gently lower kibes into the oil, working in batches, and cook until dark brown and crispy. Drain kibes on paper towels.

  8. Serve warm, with tahini dipping sauce and lime wedges.
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