CAUTION! We've read a lot lately about the dangers of raw and under-cooked meat, and many of those stories have involved ground beef. If you're skittish or have health reasons to be extra cautious, just cook your kufteh until it's well done!
The other main ingredient is #1 bulghur, or the smallest variety you can find , soaked until soft.
Here are two recipes, ours and another contributed by reader Tom Merjanian.
Tom Merjanian, of Valley Cottage, NY, submitted Mrs. Meline Merjanian's recipe,
Raw Beef and Wheat Germ Pate:
2 lbs. London Broil
3/4 cup finely ground wheat germ (#1) per one cup of finished ground meat mixture
1/3 cup water - to start
1 medium size onion
4 sprigs curly parsley
salt to taste
1 to 2 tsp. Aleppo ground red pepper
1 frozen red bell pepper
1. London Broil is a good cut of beef for Chee Kufteh for its color and flavor. Remove veins from the meat as best as possible. Cube the meat.
2. Cut the onion into squares suitable for processing.
3. Defrost the red pepper and remove the skin and seeds. Cut into squares for the food processor. Always keep some red peppers frozen for this use.
4. Separate the meat into portions that will be able to be finely grind in your food processor. Divide the sweet red pepper and onions to match these batches. Process the meat until it has the consistency of "chewing gum"- that is to say "smooth," while adding salt to taste to each batch.
5. Put the processed meat, onion, and red pepper in a bowl, blend together and then measure into measuring cups.
Have a bowl of water for moistening your hands. Your hands must be free of any odor including soaps that are odoriferous.
1. Take 1 to 2 teaspoons of Aleppo ground red pepper and place in approximately 2 ounces of water to allow the flavor to disperse.
2. Place the meat mixture into a large enough bowl for kneading. For each cup of meat, add 3/4 cup of #1 finely ground wheat germ. Add the hot pepper. Keep your hands moist. Add the 1/3 cup of water. Knead until blended well and add more water to complete the texture, making sure not to add so much water that the mixture becomes gooey. Keep in mind that the cut London Broil and the amount of onions and red pepper may affect the need for you to be sensitive by touch to the texture of the mixture.
Spread on a platter, oval or rectangular. Smooth surface with moist hands. Impress the sign of the cross into the middle of the Chee Kufteh, just as you would for dough. Garnish with the chopped scallions and chopped parsley. Additional scallions and parsley may be needed or can be served on the side.
Zahleh, Lebanon style: Your guests can pour olive oil on top of their Chee Kufteh.
Some people roll their Chee Kufteh in bread:
1. Aleppo style - "Toneer Hatz"- paper thin bread cooked on a half dome.
2. Gesaratzi style - softened "Dan Hatz"- the hard, thin bread that is softened by sprinkling with water and then rolling in a towel to allow the water to permeate the entire loaf of flat, hard bread.
3. Arabic style - so-called "pita" which is the easy way out
Salads to go with this meal are:
1. Cucumber, tomato and sliced onion salad dressed with lemon and olive oil and plenty of fresh spearmint. Salt and pepper to taste.
2. Lettuce, tomato and cucumber salad dressed with lemon and olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Olives optional.
Drinks: The old-timers drank Armenian style anise flavored brandy known as OGHEE. This product is sold in liquor stores as "Arak".
In the old days, the women would gather and work the meat into a fine pate working with a stone slab and a stone to grind the meat and break down the sinew. What a labor of love!