Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Kafta and Potatoes

If the title of this sounds familiar it's because I've posted something under this name once already. This is a completely different way of making Kafta and Potatoes, though, so bear with me! I really like it when Computer Man decides to take over dinner--I know, I've said that before, too. He usually does the grill or anything Lebanese which is fine with me since I don't have a huge desire to learn to cook Lebanese food. I know I probably should, but I just don't have the knack for it. It's something that's got to be "pure bread," if that makes any sense. So, again, I left it to him to put together this hot and savory dish that is definitely on his list of Comfort Food. My list looks much different, of course, but it's nice to get to taste some of the things his mom made so frequently since she's no longer with us to share those recipes. Luckily, she passed all her recipes down to one of her daughters, so Mario calls her up when he wants something. What's interesting, though, is that my mother-in-law NEVER told anyone her recipe for Falafel. She kept all of her recipes in a book--except the Falafel recipe--that one was in her head. When she passed away, someone in the family actually tried to steal that recipe book in hopes of finding that Falafel recipe; it was the big scandal of the week but everyone knew that no matter when no one could ever have that Falafel recipe. Crazy, right?! I hope you enjoy this comforting dish as much as we did, and know that it came from someone whose recipes were the envy of so many!

Kafta and Potatoes
the in-laws
Yields: 6-8 servings

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 punch curly parsley
1 large yellow onion
1 rounded spoonful of cinnamon
salt and pepper
4 small cans tomato sauce + 4 cans of water
5 Russet potatoes

Note: you need a large metal baking pan for this, larger than 9x13 (I think ours is 10x14 or 11x15...it's pretty big). If you don't have that big of a pan, and you don't want to feed the entire Lebanese army like this recipe does, just cut all the measurements in half and use a smaller pan.

Preheat oven to 400. Tear the parsley leaves off and put in a bowl. You'll want to do this ahead of time when you're sitting on the couch watching your favorite show. Cover with water and allow to soak for a couple of hours. When you're ready to prepare the dish, drain the parsley and transfer it to a food processor (if you have a small food processor do it in two batches). Rough chop the onion and add to the parsley. Process until very fine and well combined. Put the hamburger in a large bowl, season with salt, pepper, and the cinnamon. Add the parsley/onion mixture. Using your hands, mix together until just combined; don't over work the meat or it will be tough. Peel the potatoes and slice lengthwise. Put them in a large pot and cover with water. Boil until the potatoes are almost cooked the whole way through--they will finish cooking in the oven. Take half of the potatoes and line a large metal baking pan with them. Make about 10 patties out of the hamburger mixture; you want the patties to be about 3 inches in diameter. Lay the patties over the potatoes and then over the patties with the rest of the potatoes. Pour the tomato sauce and the water over the whole thing and bake uncovered in the oven for about an hour and a half. Remove from the oven, cover with foil, and transfer to the stove top so the pan is on a front and back burner. Turn each burner on to medium-high and allow the dish to come to a boil and cause the sauce to thicken--about another 30 minutes. Serve alongside a salad and pita bread. Enjoy!

I love that my new camera captures the steam rising from the dish! (This is after the sauce has thickened on the stove top.)

Ahh, yes, the ugly Corelle dish with the dusty pink and blue rose pattern. I told you that we always have to use these when we have Lebanese food.

I prefer more potatoes than meat, so I just take one patty.

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