Kipe or Quipe Recipe (Deep Fried Bulgur Roll): it owes its origins to the Middle East immigrants who moved to the south of the island in the 19th century. Today they are an indispensable part of our picadera (party food) platter.
Soak bulgur: Put the wheat in a bowl and add enough water to cover and let it rest overnight, stir a couple of times while it rests (see notes).
Seasoning the meat for the kipes
Make seasoning: Pulse onion, and basil in the food processor until you obtain a coarse paste.
Season meat: In a bowl, mix meat, bell pepper, basil, and onion. Add a pinch of pepper and 2 teaspoons of salt.
Combine: Using your hands mix the meat with the vegetables until you get an uniform mixture.
Separate: Split the meat into thirds and set aside ⅔ of the meat for later use.
To make the filling
Brown: Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan over medium heat. Add ⅓ of the meat you've taken out. Brown the meat.
Simmer: Add tomato sauce and mix well. Stir in ½ cup of water and the raisins and simmer over medium heat.When all the liquid has evaporated, remove it from the heat. Let it cool down to room temperature. Set aside.
To assemble the kipes
Discard water: Drain the leftover water from the bulgur and sieve to get rid of all the water (this is very important!). I suggest squeezing the bulgur with a clean cotton tea towel if you are not sure if there's water left after sieving.
Mix: Add the remaining raw meat to the bulgur. With your hands mix the bulgur and raw meat, kneading it until it is mixed uniformly. This is a key step, the better mixed this is, the better chances of kipes not breaking apart in the hot oil. Knead for your life! If you want, you can also pulse for a couple of minutes in the food processor for a more compact texture.
Shape: Put 2 tablespoons of the mixture on the palm of your hands and roll into a ball.Make a deep indentation in the ball by poking it with your index finger.
Fill: Place 1 tablespoon of the filling in the indentation. Gather around the hole, closing it, and roll the kipe with the palm of your hands making it as compact as possible. Pinch the ends to give it its traditional shape.Refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
Heat oil: Pour oil into a deep pot, and heat over medium-high heat (350 ºF [175 ºF]). The oil has to be very hot, cool oil will make your kipes break down and possibly ruin the oil too.
Fry: When it is time to fry them give them another quick squeeze to make them even more compact.Being very, very careful with splatters (hot oil and cold liquids do not get along well) fry your kipes, preferably one at a time, dropping them in the oil with a slotted spoon to avoid burning yourself.
Serve: After frying, the kipe has to be deep brown outside. Open the first one when you are done, if there is any pink part inside it means there is still raw meat, a bad thing, fry the next one longer. Place them on a paper towel to drain excess oil before serving.
Bulgur is sometimes sold under the name Coarse Bulgur Wheat [Amazon affiliate Link]. It would not be hard to find in Middle Eastern and Latino communities.Using lean meat produces a kipe / quipe that is more fragile, go with 2nd-grade meat, as it contains more fat. If you are worried about your cholesterol or weight, you should check this baked recipe, or this vegan baked kipe instead.If you don't have the time to let it rest overnight, do it for at least 4 hours.