Moroccan Spiced Lamb and Couscous with Garlic, Fresh Mint and Preserved Lemon

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..

Moroccan Spiced Lamb & Couscous with Garlic, Fresh Mint and Preserved Lemon

 

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
olive oil

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.

To Prepare

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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Chappal Kebab with Fresh Green Chutney and Almond-Raisin Basmati

Freshly-ground pastured lamb with onions, garlic, chiles and toasted spices is sizzled in cardamom-scented ghee and  served over almond-raisin basmati with a chutney of fresh mint, coriander, ginger and yogurt..

Chappal Kebab with Fresh Green Chutney and Almond-Raisin Basmati

For the Chutney (adapted from a recipe by Madhur Jaffrey)

2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Wash fresh mint and coriander (cilantro) leaves, pat dry and place in the bowl of a food processor along with the ginger, yogurt and lemon juice.  Pulse until finely chopped, then season to taste with salt and pepper.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the Rice

1 cup basmati rice
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons raisins, chopped
2 tablespoons raw almonds, blanched, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon dried rose hips (optional)
1 teaspoon good curry powder

Cook rice in stock in the normal manner, then add raisins,  almonds, rose hips and curry.  Stir to combine.  Add 1 1/2 tablespoons pan juices from the following recipe just before serving.

Chappal Kebab

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted
6 cloves
1 tablespoon sweet cinnamon shards
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/3 of a whole nutmeg

1 pound freshly-ground pastured lamb
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 hot green chiles, minced
2 tablespoons ghee
6 green cardamom pods
1 sprig fresh curry leaves
1 fresh bay leaf

Grind the first 6 ingredients together in a coffee or spice grinder and set aside.

Loosely combine ground lamb together in a bowl with onions, garlic, chiles and ground spices.  Divide mixture into 8 2oz pieces, using your hands to roll each into a not too-tightly packed ball, then set aside.

Heat ghee in a heavy skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Add cardamom pods, bay and curry leaves and sizzle 2 minutes.  Add lamb and cook until cooked through and crispy-brown on the outside, about 15 minutes.  Briefly set aside to drain, then strain some of the butter & pan juices into the rice.

To serve, spoon rice into the center of a serving dish and arrange lamb over the top.  Dress with chilled green chutney and serve immediately.

North African-style Kefta Kebab with Vegetable Couscous

Local, pastured lamb is ground with cinnamon, coriander, cumin and mint before being skewered, seared and flash-roasted with fiery harissa..

Kefta Kebab with Vegetable Couscous

For the Harissa

8-10 dried red chili peppers such as arbol (hot) or ancho (mild)
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
rose water

Split the chilies and remove the stems and seeds.  Toast briefly in a dry skillet then set aside to cool.  Toast the whole spices until fragrant, then pour into the bowl of a food processor.  Add chilies, garlic and oil and pulse into a thick paste.  Adjust consistency with water and store in the refrigerator for up to one month.

(the following are adapted from recipes by Claudia Roden)

For the Couscous

Pour 1 cup couscous into an oven dish.  Gradually pour in 1 cup warm salted water and allow to stand 10 minutes.  Mix in 1 tablespoon olive oil, then rub the grains between your hands to break up any lumps.  Place the dish into a 400 degree oven until steaming hot (about 15-20 minutes).  Stir in 1/2 cup hot vegetable stock, then toss with additional olive oil, chopped parsley and mint.  Add a little salt if you think it needs it.

For the Lamb

1/2 pound freshly-ground lamb, about 75% lean
1/3 small onion, grated
1/2 teaspoon freshly-grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cumin, toasted and ground
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
small handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Roll seasoned lamb into large balls, then thread onto skewers.  Press lamb into something resembling a short, thick cigar.  Allow to stand 20 minutes, then sear over medium-high heat until well-browned and a crispy outer crust has formed.  Paint the kebabs with harissa, then flash in a 400 degree oven until pink on the inside, about 10 minutes.

To serve family-style, place a bowl of vegetable broth in the center of a serving dish and spoon couscous around the perimeter.  Drizzle the couscous with a little oil and/or broth to keep it moist, then arrange lamb kebabs over the top.  Offer a pinch pot of ground cumin on the side.

This post is part of the Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise Platter Thursday!

Tunisian BBQ Meatloaf

Spicy ground lamb, harissa & mint BBQ sauce and artichoke couscous..

Tunisian BBQ Lamb Loaf

Tunisian BBQ Meatloaf

For a 1 pound loaf

1 pound pastured ground lamb
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 small carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic
2 pastured eggs
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon grains of paradise
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon caraway seed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cracked pepper

1/4 cup harissa
1/4 cup homemade ketchup
2 tablespoons filtered water
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

1 cup couscous
1/2 can organic artichoke hearts
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon turmeric
sea salt
saffron threads

Sweat the celery, onion, carrots and garlic in a dry skillet until soft.  Allow to cool.

Meanwhile, simmer harissa, homemade ketchup, water and fresh mint in a small pan.

Crush the whole spices in a mortar.

Combine the lamb, spices, eggs, vegetables and parsley together in a bowl.  Fold in enough dry bread crumbs so that the mixture feels damp but not too wet.

Put lamb mixture into a greased loaf pan.  Set the loaf pan inside of a baking dish and pour enough water into the baking dish to come 1/2 way up the sides of the loaf pan.

Spread harissa mint sauce over the top of the meat loaf.

Place the nested pans in a 350 degree oven until cooked through, about 50-60 minutes.  Allow meatloaf to rest 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare couscous, adding quartered artichoke hearts, turmeric, parsley, cilantro, sea salt and saffron threads (optional).

To serve, place thick slices of meatloaf over couscous.  Dress with additional BBQ sauce if desired.


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