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Red Cup Cooks: Kibbeh and Bits (of rum in fruit form)

One of the sobering realities of post-college life is that your friends, once concentrated within reasonable geographic boundaries, tend to disperse themselves all over the damned place, forcing you to once again establish new ties in a new hometown, making friends by testing your awkward and/or inappropriate jokes out on crowds of relative strangers. The Red Cup crew certainly suffered this fate for a while, but for now at least, three of us live within one city's limits. To tide us over during the Rebels' non-sports season (and let's face it, it's pretty much already started), JUCO, Ivory, and yours truly have decided to take advantage of our close proximity to write about culinary delights.

Each week, the three of us will try to meet to cook an entree, an appetizer or dessert, and a potent potable to match our culinary selection. We'll provide recipes, pictures, and reviews for your summer perusal. Today, Ivory supplied our entree, Whiskey Wednesday made dessert, and I brought the libations. Enjoy, and let us know what you think...

Kibbeh, Couscous, Salad, Drunk Fruit, and Francis Coppola Pinot Noir


1 1/2 Tbs Butter
1 1/2 Tbs Olive Oil
1 1/2 Cps. Chopped Onions
1/2 Tsp Cumin
1 Tsp Cavender's seasoning
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
1/3 Cup of Pine Nuts
1/2 lb. ground turkey (or lamb, or sausage, or beef)

4 medium onions, minced
1 cp. bulgur wheat (cracked wheat)
1 lb. lean ground meat (turkey, lamb, ground round)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. Cavender's seasoning
1 tsp. cumin
S & P to taste

Make the "dough" for the layers first.  Pour cold water over the bulgur and strain to rinse of chaff.  Repeat 2 or 3 times.  Cover the bulgur with tepid water in a large bowl.  Let sit for 20 minutes.  Press it dry.  Mix in the minced onions, meat, and seasonings.  Knead.  Throw it in the fridge while you're making the filling.

For the filling, throw the butter and olive oil in a skillet.  Warm up to medium heat.  Toast the pine nuts in the oil.  Remove.  Sautee the onions until soft.  Remove.  In a separate pan, cook the meat, making sure you don't let it clump together.  Drain.  Mix the meat, pine nuts, onions, and spices in the skillet with the remaining butter and olive oil, cooking a few more minutes on med. low.

Remove the "dough" from the fridge.  Spread half of it on a lightly greased baking pan (5 x 8 or so) that has some depth to it.  Spoon the filling over that layer.  Put the other half over the top of the filling.  Brush some olive oil on top.  Bake for 30 minutes at 375.  Broil for 5 minutes to brown the top.  Let sit for 20 minutes.  Cut it up and serve it.

Rum-drunk fruit:

1 orange, peeled and sliced
about 1/2 cantaloupe, cubed
a dozen strawberries, tops cut off, halved

1 pint Sailor Jerry Rum

Layer sliced fruit in a pitcher, pour rum over the top, add a splash of water if need be to cover the fruit. Chill for a couple of hours. Strain off the excess liquid for some pretty damn tasty infused rum. Eat the fruit. Responsibly.

Potent Beverage:
Francis Coppola's Diamon Collection Pinot Noir 2006

The back of the bottle reads:

The Monterey vineyards where our Pinot Noir grapes are grown offer ideal sun exposure, which ensures ripe fruit for us to make a rich, complex, fruit-driven wine. Seductive aromas of plum and spice lead to black cherry, currant, and strawberry flavors, a plush texture, and an elegant finish.

Since its inception, the Francis Coppola Diamond Collection has been an expansive endeavor to create consistently high-quality wines that are pure expressions of each varietal. We sought out vineyard sites across California, which would ensure superior grapes year-after-year, and we employ precise winemaking techniques to showcase the true character of our fruit. This enterprise has become a true labor of love. We invite you to share it with us.

The Review:

The Kibbeh was absolutely delicious. The cinnamon, pine nuts, and cumin just come together really, really well. I don't know where this taste originates, but there's almost a hint of sugar that has burned, and I mean that in the best way possible. It's quite good, like the burnt sugar taste in creme brulee. The wheat and onions mixed into the meat provide a lot of structure and make this denser than typical meatloaf.

But the pine nuts are really the thing that sticks out the most about Kibbeh. Pine nuts are generally too expensive for me, considering that they're often involved in recipes with other, much stronger tastes that will overpower them. However, in this Kibbeh recipe, there were a good number of them, and the different texture is quite nice, especially considering that this entree was paired with a salad and side of mushroom couscous (delicious and provided by a good FotC). The crunch of the pine nuts made a big difference in the experience of the meal.

The drunk fruit was preeeeeetty drunk. The rum really set in well with the strawberry and orange slices, but the canteloupe didn't work that well. We guessed it's because canteloupe's flavor is delicate enough to be totally masked by the alcohol, resulting in what tastes like a shot of rum in solid form. Overall the fruit was quite strong, something I personally enjoyed. The girls at the table suggested adding powdered sugar once the saturation was completed, and that's probably a good idea for future mind-altering fruit concoctions.

I've had both the Cabarnet Sauvignon from Coppola's vineyards and the Red Zinfandel. Each of them was quite good, and I would consider it my favorite "brand" so to speak. Now, I'm certainly not a wine officianado. I can pick apart some tastes, but when I read the things I'm generally supposed to taste and/or smell, I'm usually shocked at the breadth of things I didn't notice at all. Anyway, this being a good vineyard, I decided to go with the Pinot Noir, since Pinot and turkey go quite well with one another.

The Pinot was delicious. Of the things listed on the label, I tasted plum and strawberry. I didn't notice spices or cherries, but it's always difficult for me to distinguish a cherry taste from strawberry in wines. Overall, the wine probably gets somewhere between an eight and a nine from me.

Next week, something involving a grill.