[NOTE: Crushed red pepper flakes make a fine substitute for Aleppo pepper, but you’ll want to halve the amount, as Aleppo pepper is mild, earthy, and fruity compared to its more common spicy cousin.]
For the sauce:
1 bunch scallions, trimmed
2 cloves garlic
1 c. flat-leaf parsley leaves, loosely packed
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1 t. ground sumac, plus more to garnish
1 t. Aleppo pepper, plus more to garnish
½ t. kosher salt
For the kofta:
2lbs ground lamb
1 med. yellow onion, grated
4 cloves garlic, grated
2 T. pomegranate molasses
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
¼ t. ground nutmeg
¼ t. ground cloves
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. ground coriander
1 t. paprika
¼ c. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 T. finely chopped cilantro
2 T. finely chopped mint
1 T. kosher salt
1 t. freshly cracked black pepper
For the pilaf:
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. unsalted butter
1 med. yellow onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1 ½ c. cracked freekeh
¼ t. ground cumin
¼ t. ground coriander
¼ t. ground cinnamon
3 ½ c. low-sodium chicken stock
2 T. finely chopped preserved lemon
2 T. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus small leaves to garnish
1 ½ t. finely chopped cilantro, plus small leaves to garnish
1 ½ t. finely chopped mint, plus small leaves to garnish
Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. When it shimmers, add scallions and garlic to the pan, working in batches if necessary, and cook, flipping occasionally, until scallions are softened and charred inplaces and the garlic cloves are lightly golden, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly before transferring to the bowl of a food processor. Add the parsley,olive oil, lemon juice, sumac, Aleppo pepper, and salt. Process until smooth, then transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Wipe out the skillet and set aside for later.
In a large bowl, thoroughly combine ground lamb, onion, garlic, pomegranate molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cumin, ground coriander, paprika, parsley, cilantro, mint, salt, and pepper. Form mixture into 12 oval-shaped patties and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, start the pilaf. Heat olive oil and butter in a medium pot over medium heat until butter has melted and started to foam. Add onion to pot, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, 15-20 minutes.
Increase heat to medium-high and add freekeh to pot. Cook, stirring constantly, until freekeh is lightly toasted,about 2 minutes. Add cumin, coriander, and cinnamon to pot and cook, continuing to stir, until fragrant, about 30 seconds more. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until liquid has been completely absorbed, 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and set aside to cool slightly before stirring in preserved lemon and fresh herbs, and seasoning to taste with more salt and pepper as necessary.
While the freekeh is cooking, return the large skillet to medium-high heat. Heat a drizzle of olive oil until it shimmers, then, working in two batches if necessary, cook kofta, gently turning occasionally, until golden brown in places and cooked through, about 10 minutes per batch (alternately, kofta can be threaded onto metal skewers and grilled; be sure to thoroughly oil grates or grill pan to prevent sticking). Serve kofta with freekeh pilaf and scallion sumac sauce, garnished with a sprinkle of sumac and Aleppo pepper, and a scattering of parsley, cilantro, and mint leaves.