Chosen Bites: Warm up with a spicy Moroccan recipe.

The weather outside may be frightful, but inside it can be delightful with Executive Chef Laura Frankel's fiery twist to a traditional dish.

December 9, 2010 12:34
3 minute read.

Couscous 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Baby, it’s cold outside! When the temperature dives, I crave hearty-delicious slow cooked meals. So, I pull out my slow cooker (it is not just for cholent and Hamin) and with minimal prep, I can go on about my day while a mouth watering and satisfying dinner practically cooks itself.

The preparatory step of browning the meat and vegetables is not one that can be skipped. By browning the meat to a rich caramelized brown you are ensuring deep flavor and texture that could not be had by just cooking raw ingredients.

This is the time of year that my slow cooker has a prominent place on my counter top. Sure, I use the handy machine for Shabbat-but I really keep it humming along all during the week making scrumptious stews and soups.

Lamb Tagine with Moroccan Couscous
Serves 8

For the lamb
5 pounds (2.27kg) lamb shoulder cut into 2 inch cubes
Olive oil
3 medium carrots-peeled and cut into large dice
2 large Spanish onions-peeled and diced
2 fennel bulbs diced, reserve fronds for garnish
8 large cloves garlic-chopped
½ cup halved pitted dates
½ cup halved dried figs
½ cup halved dried apricots
2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
Moroccan spice mix (see below)
3-4 cups chicken stock or water
Suggested garnishes: preserved lemons, sliced into julienne, chopped cilantro and harissa

1.    Place the lamb chunks on a sheet pan or cutting board. Pat dry the meat to ensure browning. Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Brown the lamb in batches in a large sauté pan coated with olive oil over medium a light. Transfer the browned lamb to the slow cooker or Dutch oven.

2.    Brown the vegetables in batches in the same pan. Be sure to scrape up any browned bits left behind from the lamb. Lightly sauté the garlic until it is fragrant (about 1 minute). Be sure not to brown the garlic. Transfer the vegetables to the slow cooker or Dutch oven.

3.    Add the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker or Dutch oven. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours in the slow cooker or 2 ½ -3 hours in an oven until the lamb is tender and the sauce has thickened.

Garnish with preserved lemons and chopped cilantro, and pass harissa. 

Lamb tagine can be made and stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before serving or frozen for up to 1 month.

Moroccan Spice Mix

Two 2-inch cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon chili flakes
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
Seeds from 1 cardamom pod

Place the cinnamon, coriander, cumin, chili flakes, turmeric, anise, and cardamom seeds in a spice grinder or coffee grinder and process until completely ground. Store in a tightly covered container away from light for up to 3 months.

This versatile side dish can be served hot or cold and keeps well, so you can make it up to three days before serving.  I prefer the whole wheat variety of couscous (which can be found in most grocery stores), for the extra element of nutty flavor it adds.

1 cup dried Chick peas
1 cup dried fava beans
6 cups chicken stock or water
½ cup French green Lentils
1 ½ cups Couscous
¼ cup Pine nuts
½ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup extra virgin Olive oil +1 tablespoon
Salt and pepper

1. Place the chick peas and fava beans in the slow cooker. Add the chicken stock. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours.

2. Place the couscous in a large bowl. Rub the grains with the tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. This helps the couscous to keep from clumping together. Add the lentils and couscous to the slow cooker and continue cooking for 1 more hour until the lentils are tender. Remove the couscous mixture and place in a large bowl.

Chef Laura Frankel is Executive Chef for Spertus Kosher Catering and author of Jewish Cooking for All Seasons, and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes.

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