According to the American Lamb Board, February is Lamb Lover's Month. When they reached out to me to create a special Valentine's Day meal for two, there was no way I could say no.
I'm a fan of the typical cheesy Valentine's Day stuff - heart-shaped everything, splashed in red and pink, surrounded by little baby cupids. My Valentine's Pinterest board has more links than my Christmas boards! So forgive me if I went a little overboard with this recipe of heart-shaped kufte. If your heart (ok, that was taking it a bit too far) isn't in it, you could just shape these as patties or meatballs.
I was so happy with this recipe, I would have made a second batch right away to put into the freezer just to have on hand... if we hadn't been in the middle of a huge blizzard here in New England. As it is, I will be making this again in the future. It was relatively quick to make (especially if you make the sauce ahead of time or start it first), and it stretched one pound of meat into enough to fill 4 people. Another plus? It can be made ahead of time, just doing the final bake before you eat - especially helpful when Valentine's Day falls on a weekday ;)
And the sauce! Oh god, the sauce! I wanted to use pomegranate molasses, but I thought the flavors would be even more exciting if I made my own and added some red wine. I could probably eat the sauce all by itself, because it tastes like a very tart and tannic jam. I'd love to try it on other meats as well.
I served my kufte with buttery pilaf topped with fresh pomegranate seeds, although a salad or even some noodles would work.
Heart-Shaped Lamb Kufte with Pomegranate Wine Molasses
1/2 cup bulgur wheat
1/2 cup hot water
1 small onion, minced
1 shallot, minced
large handful of fresh parsley, minced
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp sumac
1 lb ground lamb
In a mixing bowl combine bulgur wheat and hot water; let sit, covered, for 15 minutes. If there is any water left after 15 minutes, carefully pour it out. Add onion, shallot, parsley, egg, salt, pepper, allspice, cayenne, and sumac, and mix well. Add lamb and incorporate with the rest of the ingredients. Don't overwork the lamb or it will become tough.
Line a baking sheet with foil. To shape hearts, take a golf ball-size piece of mixture and form it into a triangular patty. Place on baking sheet, then gently use one finger to form an indentation in the top of the triangle (as in the picture above) to form the heart (this may take a bit of coaxing). Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Cook kufte in a 350° oven for 15 minutes, flipping halfway through. Serve with pomegranate wine molasses below.
Pomegranate Wine Molasses
2 cups pomegranate juice
2 cups red wine
1 shallot, minced
2 tsp honey
In a medium saucepan, combine juice, wine, and shallot. Bring to a boil and cook about 45 minutes, until reduced to 1/2-cup or so. Whisk occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking. In the last 5 minutes, add the honey and whisk well. Once the sauce is reduced, add salt to taste and serve with kufte.