Archive for the ‘Lamb’ Category

Kefta Tagine with Eggs and Roasted Cumin

January 16, 2012

After 2 weeks of not cooking, due to a lack of dishwasher (yes, we were actually so lazy we dirtied as few dishes as possible!), I wanted to try something lengthy, complicated, warm and comforting. Something that could go terribly wrong, but could also go terribly right. So, I broke out my Tagine cookbook, by Ghillie Basan, to find something spicy and filling to warm us on a cold winter night.

This dish caught my eye because even though it was comprised of the traditional lamb that is in many African dishes, it came together as meatballs, with sunny side up eggs, all cooked in the tagine.

The meatballs are called kefta, and they are filled with amazing spices, and are poached in water (which helps them keep their perfect shape), then cooked in spiced liquid that absorbs into the meatballs, and creates a hot, dry bottom of the tagine in which to cook the eggs.

Not only did the dish turn out perfectly, but the combination was nothing we had ever experienced. The spice, ras-el-hanout, is worth seeking out (I found mine at my local spice store, but you can also find it online).

My only caution is to be careful of the spice level. I will write this recipe with the spice level I used so hopefully it will do the trick (vs. the original recipe from the cookbook).

Trust me, it is worth the effort. And, ironically enough, at the end of the day there really weren’t many dishes to speak of – except the tagine itself (which doesn’t go in the dishwasher).

KEFTA TAGINE WITH EGGS AND ROASTED CUMIN
Serves 4

For the Kefta:
16 ounces ground lamb
1 onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried mint
3 teaspoons ras-el-hanout
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
a small bunch of fresh flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Rest of the Dish:
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6-8 eggs
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, dry-roasted and ground
a small bunch of fresh flatleaf parsley

To make the kefta, put the ground lamb, onion, mint, ras-el-hanout, cayenne and parsley in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and mix well together. Using your hands, knead the mixture and mold it into small balls.

Fill a tagine (or dutch oven) with water and bring it to a boil. Carefully drop in the kefta, a few at a time, and poach them for about 10 minutes, turning them so they cook on all sides. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels. Reserve roughly 2 1/2 cups of cooking liquid.

Add the butter to the tagine with the reserved cooking water and bring to a boil. Stir in the salt and cayenne and drop in the poached kefta. Cook over high heat until almost all of the liquid has evaporated (about 15 or so minutes). Carefully crack the eggs around the kefta, cover the tagine with the lid, and cook and steam until they are just set. Sprinkle the roasted cumin seeds and the chopped parsley over the top of the dish. Serve with pearl couscous and flat bread.

Lamb Tagine with Dates, Almonds and Pistachios

February 4, 2011

I first discovered tagines last year when I was on the search for rich, winter comfort food. I found a lamb tagine that warmed your whole body, and paired perfectly with a glass of full-bodied red wine. I knew Moroccans were on to something…

A tagine is a spicy, rich stew from northern Africa. The name tagine is also given to the vessel it is cooked in – a shallow, round pot with a unique conical lid designed to lock in moisture and flavors, cooking the food gently in a small amount of liquid. My first few tangines I used my go to – my dutch oven. But as my love for the rich dish grew, I realized I needed to do it right. So, I bought a tagine at Sur la Table. And, of course, I couldn’t buy the tagine without a Tagine cookbook as well.

Although the tagine is big, bulky, and really doesn’t have a convenient storage location, it is well worth the purchase. The meat, when cooked in this vessel, is so tender and moist – despite being on a stove for so long (a testament to the cone-shaped lid). This particular tagine was my first in the authentic cookware and has a wonderful sweetness from the dates.

So, if you have a few hours to cook on a Sunday night (keep in mind about 2 hours is completely inactive cooking time), I would give this tagine a try. Cook it in any pot you use for long cooking, but if you get hooked on tagines like me, it is well worth the investment of an actual tagine. Plus, it is just plain cool to look at!

Thanks to Tagine: Spicy Stews from Morocco by Ghillie Basan for this fantastic recipe!

LAMB TAGINE WITH DATES ALMONDS AND PISTACHIOS
Serves 4

2-3 tablespoons ghee (or olive oil plus a pat of butter)
2 onions, finely chopped (I just used one)
1-2 teaspoons ground tumeric
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 1/4 lb lean lamb, from the shoulder, neck or leg, cut into bite-size pieces
8 oz moist, ready to eat, pitted dates
1 tablespoon honey
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
a pat of butter
2-3 tablespoons blanched almonds
2 tablespoons shelled pistachios
a small bunch of flatleaf parsley, finely chopped

Heat the ghee in a tagine or heavy-based casserole dish. Stir in the onions and saute until golden brown. Stir in the tumeric, ginger and cinnamon. Toss in the meat, making sure it is coated in the spice mixture. Pour in enough water to almost cover the meat and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer gently for roughly 1.5 hours.

Add the dates and stir in the honey. Cover with the lid again and simmer for another 30 minutes. Season with salt and lots of black pepper.

Heat the olive oil with the butter in a small pan. Stir in the almonds and pistachios and cook until they begin to turn golden brown. Scatter the nuts over the lamb and dates and sprinkle with the flatleaf parsley. Service with buttery couscous.

Lamb and Chickpea Tagine

March 6, 2010

So far to date, I have only made one recipe with lamb. I know, it is obvious that it scares me a bit – especially since the only recipe I have used lamb in is pastitio (using only ground lamb). But, I thought I would continue to ease into the meat, and try a lamb stew.

Previously I blogged about a Moroccan stew that is one of our winter favorites. This one looked a bit similar, but had lamb, a few different spices and the addition of honey. It was a cold winter night (hopefully one of our last) so I gave it a try.

The stew is so hearty and warming, it makes you feel cozy inside – the cilantro is a bright addition to the heavy dish and the pistachios (although I originally I thought were odd) gave a great flavor and crunch. I served it over couscous in true African tradition, but you could certainly serve without.

I got this recipe from Cooking Light and it came with a wine pairing so I thought I would try the two together. I was happy when I found the wine at my local Biggs and on sale for $20. It is a Rodney Strong 2007 “Knotty Vines” Zin from Sonoma County. If you can find it, I would recommend it with the tagine – it has a deep fruit flavor that complements the sweet and spicy nature of the dish.

SPECIAL NOTE: “Tagine” is named after the pot in which the stews are cooked in Northern Africa. It is truly unique – like a Dutch oven but with a cone-shaped lid. Most of us don’t have one, so a Dutch oven works perfectly!

LAMB AND CHICKPEA TAGINE
4 Servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound lamb stew meat
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons honey
2 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1/3 cup chopped pistachios
2 tablespoons small fresh cilantro leaves

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add lamb; sauté 4 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove lamb with a slotted spoon. Add onion, salt, pepper, and cumin to pan; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Return lamb to pan; stir in tomato paste and honey. Cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add broth, raisins, and chickpeas; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium, and cook 50 minutes or until lamb is tender, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with pistachios and cilantro.

Kibbeh

January 19, 2010

When I told my friends the other day I made Kibbeh for dinner, they looked at me like I had 3 heads.

“It is the national dish of Lebanon,” I declared proudly.

“Um, do you have Lebanese heritage?” They asked. Well, I am afraid the answer was no – I am a little Irish, a little German and very Italian by marriage. But, I read the recipe in my Gourmet cookbook and it sounded like a unique dish – why not?

I will admit to all of you that making this took a bit of courage and a VERY high probability we would be ordering take out. Apparently, Kibbeh (sometimes called Kibbe) was the dish by which a woman’s skill in the kitchen was measured in ancient Lebanon and Syria. Talk about pressure!

But, miraculously, my nerves were unwarranted as the dish turned out to be fantastic! The best thing I can equate it to is a Middle Eastern meatloaf. It is made with lamb, bulgur, pinenuts and lots of warm, cozy spices. Great for a cold winter night…

You can make it in a pie plate or cast iron skillet – not surprisingly I recommend using a cast iron skillet if you have one (and if you don’t you really should invest in one!). My skillet has yet to let me down, and it helps form the “pie” with its higher sides.

Good luck!

KIBBEH
6 Servings

For filling:
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lb ground lamb (not lean)
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup pine nuts plus 2 tablespoons for garnish, all toasted

For bulgur mixture:
1 cup fine bulgur (6 1/2 oz)
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 lb ground lamb (not lean)
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

Accompaniment: plain yogurt

Make filling:
Cook onion in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add lamb, allspice, salt, cinnamon, and pepper and cook, stirring and breaking up lumps, until lamb is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1/3 cup pine nuts.

Make bulgur mixture:
Preheat oven to 400°F.

Cover bulgur by 1 inch with cold water in a bowl. When dust and chaff rise to surface, pour off water, then repeat rinsing 2 more times. Cover rinsed bulgur with cold water by 1 inch and let stand 10 minutes. Drain in a fine-mesh sieve, pressing hard on bulgur to remove excess liquid, and transfer to a large bowl.

Pulse onion in a food processor until finely chopped. Add lamb, allspice, salt, cinnamon, and pepper and pulse until onion is finely minced (meat will look smooth). Add to bulgur and mix with your hands to combine well.

Assemble and bake kibbeh:
Lightly grease pie plate with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Press half of bulgur mixture evenly onto bottom and up side of plate (up 1 inch if using skillet). Spoon filling evenly over bulgur mixture. Spoon remaining bulgur mixture over filling and spread to cover, smoothing top. Brush top with remaining olive oil and score in a crosshatch pattern with a paring knife.

Bake kibbeh in middle of oven until cooked through, 35 to 40 minutes.

Preheat broiler. Broil kibbeh 5 to 7 inches from heat until top is golden brown and crusty, 3 to 5 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Pastitsio

May 22, 2009

IMG_0329Now I will admit, when I made pastitsio the other night, it was the first time I had even attempted it. It is a Greek dish – almost the Greek’s version of Italian lasagna. The bottom is a traditional pasta with tomato sauce (with some comfort spices like cinnamon) topped with a cream topping – either a custard or a cream sauce.

When I made it, one thought came to mind – why on earth hadn’t I made this before?! It is an amazing comfort dish that makes you feel all warm inside. To give you an indication as to how filling it is, the Greeks would traditionally eat pastitsio on Easter after a long period of fasting.

This version has lamb, but I have seen others with any type of meat. If you aren’t sure if you like lamb, this would be a great dish to test it out – it gives an earthy flavor that compliments the sauces perfectly!

This particular recipe is from my PBS station, The Everyday Food television series.

PASTITSIO
Serves 8

Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound penne, cooked and drained
2 pounds ground lamb
2 medium onions, diced
1/2 cup red wine
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 cups milk
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta and drain. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium heat, cook lamb, breaking apart pieces with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 6 to 8 minutes. Add onions; cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Transfer to a colander, drain fat, and discard. Return lamb to pan; add wine. Cook over medium heat until almost all liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, cinnamon and 2 cups water; simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Make Parmesan cheese sauce while mixture is simmering. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; whisk in flour until incorporated, about 30 seconds. In a slow steady stream, whisk in milk until there are no lumps. Cook, whisking often, until mixture is thick and bubbly and coats the back of a wooden spoon, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in cayenne, if desired, and Parmesan.

Add pasta to lamb mixture, transfer to a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Pour sauce over the top, smoothing with the back of a spoon until level. Bake until browned in spots, 35 to 40 minutes.

Remove from oven, let cool 15 minutes before serving.


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