Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A great meal, on the lamb

The video above is of cute lambs, if you don't mind seeing where your food comes from.

We had a huge dump of snow last week, knocking out our power for several days. So I did a lot of cooking (to be frank, most of the time was spent planning for what to eat next, to make the most of the food that might not make it through the outage), and not too much writing.

But we did have one truly spectacular meal that I had to write about: a lamb tangine. I had already decided I'd use ground lamb instead of the traditional cubed lamb in it to cut down on cooking time, but  I further adapted it into a totally one-dish meal so that I wouldn't have to dirty any more dishes than necessary, since in our house, no electricity means no running water, either. So I upped the water a bit and added dry couscous to the pot before serving, letting it simmer for about 5 minutes to make sure the couscous was fully cooked and fluffy.

And with only the candlelight for illumination, it was quite romantic as well.

Ground Lamb Tagine
Adapted from a recipe by Ethan Stowell, Food & Wine magazine
Serves 8

1/4 cup olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 lemon, zest removed, and juice reserved
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
One 3-inch cinnamon stick
Kosher salt
2 pounds ground lamb
4 cups water
6 large carrots, thinly sliced
1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cups pitted green Picholine olives, rinsed
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
3 cups of cooked couscous

In a large bowl, mix the olive oil, garlic, lemon zest, ginger, paprika, coriander, cumin, black pepper, cayenne, cloves, saffron, cinnamon stick and 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Add the lamb mix well. Refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, scrape the lamb and spices by tablespoon into a tagine or a medium enameled cast-iron casserole. Add the water, carrots and onion and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for about an hour.
Refrigerate. When you get home from work, spoon off any fat that is on the top, then cook until everything is tender and the liquid has reduced. Stir in the olives, season with salt (if needed) and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley, cilantro and 3 tablespoons lemon juice. Ladle into bowls over couscous and serve.

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