From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Over the next few weeks I'll be featuring a series of recipes for Moroccan-style entrees. Our original travel plans for the year included an extended trip to North Africa. That, of course, meant lots of time would be spent in Morocco, becoming familiar with its history and culture and sampling the cuisine for which it is so justly famous. Fate is fickle. Just before we contractually committed to that adventure, we were notified that spots had open on an Amazon trip that the Silver Fox, who, by the way, will be home from the hospital on Monday, has wanted to take for years. So, guess who will be trekking in Brazil and Peru rather than touring in Spain and Morocco. I'm thrilled, but in anticipation of the original trip, I had been collecting and testing recipes for Moroccan food. This wonderful tagine is one of them. The recipe was developed by Kerry Saretsh who writes a weekly feature for Serious Eats. The dish is very easy to make, but it does use some spices that may be difficult to find in your neighborhood grocery store. Piment d'Espelette is a Basque chili pepper that has a unique flavor. For those of you who don't have time to search it out, Hungarian hot paprika or New Mexico red chili powder can be used as substitutes. Ras el hanout is a Moroccan spice blend that's made with more than 30 individual spices. It, too, can be difficult to find. I make a reasonable facsimile and have included a recipe for it following the instructions for the tagine. These meatballs and the sauce in which they cook are wonderful and I do hope you will try this stellar tagine. It has become a favorite of mine. Now, all I have to do is figure out what they eat in Peru. I have a friend, now enrolled in a remedial PC program, who suggested conquistadors. Life is never boring in these climes.
Moroccan Lamb Meatball Tagine...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Kerry Saretsky via Serious Easts.com
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 egg (beat one whole egg and use half)
1 shallot, finely minced (about 2 tablespoons), and 4 shallots, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint, plus 10 leaves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus 1/4 cup, roughly chopped
3 teaspoons ras el hanout, divided
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon piment d’Espelette or hot paprika or New Mexico red chili powder
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 pound ground lamb
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced on a bias (about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained
1-1/2 cups canned or homemade low-sodium beef broth
2 tablespoons golden raisins
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, stir together breadcrumbs and milk until the milk is absorbed into bread. Add egg. Add 1 shallot, finely minced, 1 tablespoon chopped mint, 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, 1-1/2 teaspoons ras el hanout, the piment d’Espelette, and season with salt and pepper. I used a teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stir together until combined. Add lamb, and gently toss together until evenly mixed. Divide mixture into 8 meatballs. Place flour in a shallow pan. Roll meatballs in flour, patting off excess flour. Reserve any remaining flour.
2) In a saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium to medium-high heat until oil shimmers. Place floured meatballs into hot oil and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Set meatballs aside, and lower heat. Add shallots, season with salt and pepper, and sauté on medium-low until soft, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and carrot, and cook until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add reserved flour, and toss to coat vegetables with flour. Add tomato paste, drained tomatoes, beef broth, raisins and remaining 1-1/2 teaspoons of ras el hanout. Stir to combine, breaking up whole tomatoes with a fork or back of a spoon. Bring liquid to a boil.
3) Add meatballs back into stew, and top with remaining mint, cilantro, and olive oil. Cover pot with a lid and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Place a lid on the pot, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. After half an hour, remove pot from oven and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until sauce is very thick, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately with couscous tossed in Meyer lemon olive oil, or just serve with baguette. Yield: 4 servings.
Ras el Hanout
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 a glass jar, and store in a dry, dark place. Will keep several months.
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