Thursday, January 04, 2007

Almost Warak Enab

Or, How I Made Lebanese Stuffed Grape Leaves Without the Grape Leaves!

Yes, boys and girls, it can be done!

Last winter, I finally broke down and replaced my old, 1940s era pressure cooker with a brand spanking new Fagor. It came with a little recipe booklet which included a recipe for porcupines. I had eaten them once before, in 1980, when a very young Navy wife that I met when I first moved to California made them for me, and I have never eaten them since. I remember thinking that they were kind of bland, but ok. So, there was the recipe staring back at me, and it looked, well, kinda bland but ok. Then it hit me -- it basically is the same proportion of rice and meat that is used in the stuffing for grape leaves! I fiddled a little bit with the recipe for stuffing and tried it out in the pressure cooker, and it was fabulous! All the flavor, none of the work!

Almost Warak Enab (Lebanese style)

For meatballs:
1 med onion, chopped finely
1 Tbs butter
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp allspice or mixed Arabic spices
1 1/4 C rice, well washed
1 lb hamburger
1/2 C water

Saute the onion in the oil until it is translucent, then mix all the ingredients together. Form into 12 meatballs and place on a trivet in a 6 qt or larger pressure cooker. Its best if they are in 1 layer, but use 2 layers if necessary.

For cooking liquid:
1 tsp dried mint
2 cloves garlic, minced
15 oz can of diced tomatoes in juice
1/4 C lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
water to cover

Sprinkle the mint and garlic over the meatballs. Pour the tomatoes with their juice over, and add water till the meatballs are covered. Drizzle in the lemon juice and sprinkle the salt over all.

Cover tightly and simmer on the stove about 50 minutes until rice is completely cooked.

To Pressure Cook: This is how I cook them! Bring to high pressure and cook exactly 14 minutes. Let pressure reduce naturally.

Serve with pita bread, plain yogurt and a nice salad.

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