Local, pastured lamb (Menzie’s Farm, Harper, TX) is ground and tossed with diced onions and freshly-ground ras el hanout, then seared in clarified butter with homemade harissa. Served over stock-simmered couscous with garlic, fresh mint and Jenny’s Moroccan preserved lemons..
For the Ras el Hanout (recipe by Christine Benlafquih)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cardamon
2 teaspoons ground mace
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground anise seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Blend all of the spices in a bowl. Transfer to an air-tight glass jar and store in a dry, dark place for up to several months
For the Harissa (recipe by Christine Benlafquih)
12 to 15 dried red chili peppers (approx. 1 1/2 oz. or 100 g)
3 or 4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground caraway seeds (optional)
2 to 3 teaspoons lemon juice
Remove the seeds from the dried chili peppers and place them in a bowl. Cover them with very hot water and leave to soften for 30 minutes to an hour.
Drain the chili peppers, and gently squeeze out excess water with a paper towel. Using a mortar and pestle (or a blender or mini food processor) grind the chili peppers, garlic, salt and spices to a paste. Add the lemon juice and just enough olive oil to moisten the harissa, or add additional olive oil to thin it.
Store unused harissa in an airtight container in the fridge. For long storage, lightly top the harissa with a little oil before covering.
For the Lamb
1 lb freshly ground lamb
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons clarified butter or ghee
1-1/2 tablespoons harissa
For the Couscous
1 cup couscous (Israeli whole wheat is particularly nice)
2 cups vegetable stock or filtered water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
half of a Moroccan preserved lemon, diced
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the couscous and garlic and stir to coat. Continue cooking until garlic is soft but not browned, about 3 minutes.
Add stock or water, increase heat and bring to a low boil. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mint, lemon and salt and pepper to taste. Cover, remove from heat and let stand 8 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.
Heat butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Pinch off pieces of lamb about the size and shape of a ping pong ball and sauté in butter until golden brown on all sides.
Stir in harissa and toss to coat.
Place couscous in bowl and arrange lamb over the top. Pour some of the harissa butter over the top and serve hot with additional ras el hanout, lemon and mint.
Ras El Hanout is a complex, aromatic Moroccan spice blend. Most recipes include cardamom, nutmeg, anise, mace, cinnamon, ginger, various peppers, and turmeric, but 30 or more ingredients might be used.
Ras El Hanout’s literal translation from Arabic is “head of the shop,” meaning “the best (or top) of the shop.”
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