From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I thought I had escaped the annual curse, but I just can't beat back the wanderlust that overcomes me at this time of year. It's the kind of yearning that a day trip to the coast or mountains simply will not cure. So, I pull out the travel brochures and the unrequited wish lists from years past, and the Silver Fox and I spend hours charting the course for yet another adventure. Our destination this year will be North Africa and the Middle East, but the specific areas we'll be visiting are completely dependent on the political climate come next fall. In the meantime, I'll be delving into the cooking of the region, so the food we encounter won't come as a complete surprise to us. I've made the recipe I'm featuring tonight several times, and it has much to commend it. It is fast, easy and relatively inexpensive. Better still, I think you'll find the spicy lamb sausage, called Merguez, to be absolutely delicious. I found the recipe for the lamb patties in an old issue of Gourmet magazine, and I think you'll find it to be is straight forward and hard to spoil. I do, however, have one caution to share with you. It is easy to overcook the lamb and you don't want to do that. The time listed in the recipe below will give you medium rare lamb patties, but I aim for something pinker, so I cut the cooking time from 9 to 7 minutes. The raisin-couscous is a perfect foil for the spicy and juicy lamb and the entire meal can be on the table in about 30 minutes. If, like me, you tire of repetition and enjoy sampling food from other regions, I hope you'll give this recipe a try. You will not regret it. Most of you will be able to find harissa in large grocery stores, but should you have to make it, I have a recipe for you HERE. Here's how this simple flavor packed meal is made. Enjoy!
Merguez Lamb Patties with Golden Raisin Couscous...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Andrea Albin and Gourmet magazine
1-1/4 teaspoons fennel seeds
1-1/4 pounds ground lamb
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons harissa (spicy North African condiment)
1-1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1-1/4 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1-1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or water
1/3 cup golden raisins
1 cup couscous
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Zest of 1 lemon
1) Toast fennel seeds in a small heavy skillet over medium heat until fragrant and a shade darker, about 1 minute. Grind to a fine powder in grinder.
2) Mix together lamb, garlic, harissa, spices (including fennel), and 1/2 teaspoon salt thoroughly with your hands (do not overmix). Form into 4 oval patties (about 3/4 inch thick).
3) Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then cook patties, turning once, about 9 minutes total for medium-rare.
4) While patties cook, bring broth, raisins, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, then stir in couscous. Let stand off heat, covered, 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork; stir in cilantro, zest, and salt to taste. Serve patties on couscous. Yield: 4 servings.
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