Ryan Thomas is a university graduate who enjoys cooking recipes from a wide variety of culinary traditions.
A Lebanese Twist on Meatloaf
This recipe is unlike any American meatloaf you've ever had. The recipe takes its inspiration from Lebanon—specifically from baked kibbeh sahnieh, which is a combination of couscous, beef, and onion with a host of spices with prominent notes of cinnamon and garlic. It's a deliciously filling, satisfying, and deeply flavored meal.
I adapted this recipe from Maureen Abood's cookbook Rose Water and Orange Blossoms: French and Classic Recipes from my Lebanese Kitchen. I think this is an excellent cookbook, and I recommend it heartily. It features wonderful recipes that are well written and produce great food. It has fantastic pictures, a wide variety of types, and a nice mixture of cultural perspective on Lebanon that don't drag on too long like in other cookbooks.
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 2 onions
- 1 (5.5 ounces) box couscous (plus flavoring package)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/3 teaspoon cayenne
- 6 leaves fresh mint, chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried mint
- 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons plus some additional garnish pine nuts
- olive oil
- 1/2 cup plus some additional garnish cilantro, stems removed to leave just the leaves
- 4 tablespoons butter
- Fill a bowl with 1 cup of water and place it into a freezer to chill. Rinse the couscous in water once, then add in just enough water to cover, and its seasoning packet, and allow to flavor and soften for 30 minutes.
- Peel and chop an onion, then place it with the 4 garlic cloves, also peeled and chopped, in a blender. Puree finely.
- In a large bowl, with hands wetted with ice water, gently mix together the pureed onion, 1 pound of ground beef, and half of the couscous. Add in batches the rest of the couscous, dried mint, mint leaves, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1-2 tablespoons of kosher salt, 2 tablespoons pine nuts, cilantro, cayenne, wetting one's hands with the water as one does it, and working in 3 tablespoons of water.
- Place this into the bottom of a lightly oiled baking dish (I used a large flat casserole dish), flattening it until it is even and covers all of it, and put some additional pine nuts on top.
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil, then place into it the other onion, finely chopped and peeled, and sauté until it is golden and translucent. Then add in the remaining pound of beef, and season with 1 teaspoon of salt, the remaining cinnamon, and pepper. Add in the remaining pine nuts and the lemon juice.
- Pour this over the top of the meat which is already in the casserole dish, spreading it out until it is smooth, put some cilantro leaves and dried mint on top, and use a large knife or serving wedge to cut it into 8 individual sections with a wedge of the butter on each of them. Put into 400 degree f oven for 50 minutes, covering with aluminum foil if it starts to burn but attempting to get a crusty and golden top. Use a brush to brush oil around the edges over the top, and serve hot.