In my husband’s family, Potato Kibbeh needs no introduction. I mean, can you get any better than spiced meat sandwiched between layers of silky potato? It is like the Middle Eastern version of Shepard’s Pie. What makes it taste Middle Eastern you ask? The spices! The potato has light notes of curry and turmeric. The meat has spices that really complement the flavor – nutmeg, all spice, cinnamon, turmeric, curry. Imagine cutting through those golden layers with your fork – absolutely delicious!
Anyways. You know the moment when you open your mom or grandma’s door to their house for dinner? And with one whiff, you have an idea of what’s to come? What a treat it is to open the door of my in-laws house (Majedah) and get a whiff of the Kibbeh in the oven. My mouth waters just thinking of it!
The majority of time spent making this dish is the cook time in the oven. It is done cooking once the top has achieved a deep golden color. During that time you can prep an Arabic Salad which would be a great side dish to the meal or just hang with the family. We often eat this dish with a side of labneh (or greek yogurt.)
BAM, there you have it, Shepard’s Pie in the Middle East. It a dish you never knew you needed in your life, until now.
- 5 lbs russet potatoes
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- ¼ cup canola or vegetable oil, plus a little more to line the pan
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 2 tsp turmeric
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 2 lbs ground meat (85/90% lean)
- 2 large yellow onions, chopped (about 3 cups of chopped onion)
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 1 tbsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1½ tbsp curry powder
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp allspice
- ½ cup water
- 30 slivers of blanch almonds or pine nuts
- Place washed potatoes in a large pot with water. Bring water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook potatoes until easily pierced through with a knife.
- Remove potatoes from water and allow to cool. To speed up the cooling process, you can cut potatoes length wise in half. Once cool enough to work with your hands, peal off potato skin.
- Place potato back into the pot or a large bowl. Add butter, oil, salt, curry powder, turmeric, pepper and mash all together with a potato masher.
- In a large pan on the stove, heat oil on medium-high until it starts to shimmer.
- Add onion and saute until it starts to become translucent, about 7 minutes.
- Add in meat, salt, pepper, curry powder, turmeric, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg. Mix ingredients until the onion and spices are evenly distributed throughout the meat.
- Add water. Once it has come to a boil, turn down the heat to medium, cover and cook for 15 minuets.
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- To a round 10" oven safe pan or cast iron skillet, lightly coat the bottom with oil.
- Add half of the potato mixture to the bottom of the pan. Make sure to smooth out evenly as this will be the base of the kuba pie.
- Now, gently tilt the pan with the meat to drain of some of the oil. Evenly place the meat mixture onto the potato. It is ok to get a little oil with the meat as it has a ton of flavor, or you can drizzle a little of the pan oil onto the meat. Discard residual oil in pan.
- To cover the meat with potato, grab about a orange size ball and flatten out to make patties. Lay patties close together on top of meat mixture, and start to press edges together to make a smooth layer. (See picture)
- Once the top potato layer is smooth and even, it is time to cut the pie. First make about 5 vertical cuts down the pan. Be sure to cut through the entire meat pie. Keep the cold water running in your sink and after each vertical cut, rinse your knife to avoid making messy cuts (just like cutting a cake).
- One you have made the vertical cuts, make about 5 cuts on a slight diagonal to create a diamond shape.
- On each piece gently press in a sliver of almond or pine nut.
- Place in oven for about 2 hours, or until even golden on top.
- Allow to cool for about 15 minutes and then serve. This is enjoyed with a Arabic salad, labneh or anything of your liking!