Monday, November 08, 2010

The Savor of the Lamb

Our friend Ron had bought some lamb several months ago from someone in Jalisco. It had been in his freezer since then. He suggested that he grill it on our big charcoal cooker. After some discussion, we agreed that a Moroccan seasoning would be a nice approach. That suggested a Middle Eastern theme.

"Come here, you poor little lambs who've lost their way."

I made some supporting dishes, and our guests, Ron, Shirley and Krina; and Doña Cuevas and I enjoyed a great lamb dinner on Saturday, November 6, 2010.

Moroccan Lamb Dinner
  • White Bean Puree
  • Roasted Sweet Peppers and eggplant, Charmoula Marinade
  • Pickled Setas from Gaby at Mercado Buen Provecho
  • Totopos (tortilla chips)
  • Mixed lettuces  (also from Gaby) and vine tomatoes salad, Olive oil and wine vinegar; Charmoula sauce option
  • Charcoal grilled, Moroccan spice rubbed, boneless leg of lamb
  • Perfumed Basmati Rice
  • Garlic and Onion Naan (flat breads. Needs further work.)
  • Wines
  • Agua Fresca de Papaya
  • Ricotta, honey, roasted almonds and berries, date-rosewater syrup, on Pan de Muerto toast rounds. Not an entirely successful dessert: the ricotta should have been sieved finely instead of merely whipped.
Here's  the super easy recipe for the white bean puree. It's similar to hummus but does not have tahini.

White Bean Puree
From A Book of Middle Eastern Food, by Claudia Roden.

1/2 pound of dried white beans (navy, pea or Great Northern)
I used alubias blancas chicas.
Pick over, rinse, soak overnight.

Boil the beans until very soft. Salt to taste.
I added some white onion and bay leaf.
Drain the beans thoroughly.* Save a few whole beans for garnish, and mash, pound or blend the rest to a smooth puree....
Add 5 tablespoons olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, salt and pepper.
I think I added a little ground cumin.
A clove or two of garlic, pressed, optional.
Thin with a little water if necessary.
*That's why I left a little cooking water in the beans.
Serve in a bowl, decorated with the whole beans, and a few olives.
I drizzled olive oil on it, and garnished with parsley.

White Bean Puree

Grilled Eggplant and Sweet Peppers with Charmoula Marinade

I used 3 medium eggplants and 3 medium to large sweet red peppers. A fourth pepper would have been nice.

Prepare the egplant by cutting in half lengthwise, and diagonally scoring the cut sides to a depth of about 1/2 inch. Salt the scored sides liberally, and place upright in a colander over a bowl. Allow to drain the bitter juices for an hour.

Rinse off the excess salt and blot dry with paper towels.
 Meanwhile, cut the sweet peppers lengthwise and seed them, also removing any white pith.

Prepare the Charmola Marinade (This recpe comes from Joyce Goldstein's The Mediterranean Kitchen. Originally, it was intended for fish. It somewhat resembles chimichurrí.)

1 cup fruity olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
I substituted lime juice, since we can seldom get lemons here.
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley

1/2 cup chopped cilantro
6 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon paprika
I used some sweet paprika and a little Pimentón de la Vera smoked paprika.
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Used Spanish pimentón picante instead, but not the smoked type.
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Lightly but thoroughly daub the marinade on the eggplants and pepper halves. (Reserve some marinade for dressing after the vegetables are cooked.) Grill slowly over a charcoal fire until the eggplant softens and the peppers become tender. Drizzle lightly with reserved narinade, and garnish with sprigs of parsley and/or cilantro.

Eggplant and Peppers

And not to be forgotten, the lamb:

Grilling the lamb

Lamb on the table


Dan in NC said...

Sr. Cuevas,
I let it go for a couple of days, hoping another reader would raise the question: Please explain the contents of the rub you used on the lamb?
It really looks good.. Also, how come no Fatoush? seems that this would have been a lovely side to have..
Dan in NC

Don Cuevas said...

Dan in NC, I've emailed Ron, who did the lamb, for an explanation of the spicing.

As for fatoush: well, you can't do everything.

We did already have rice and flat bread and salad. What more do you want????

Don Cuevas

Don Cuevas said...

Ron wrote and explained:
"The spice rub I used was 3 Tbsps of Mustapha's Moroccan Melange #1 Spice Blend for Beef and Lamb, plus 5-6 cloves of garlic and a couple of generous pinches of Colima sea salt, mashed with olive oil. More here:"

Don Cuevas said...

The Secret Fate of the Lamb

I had a few ounces of Moroccan roast lamb left from last Sunday's parillada.

So, a little while ago, after I'd made 8 homely but beautiful, brown patched flour tortillas, kept warm in a kitchen towel; I sliced half a sweet pepper lengthwise, one medium onion lengthwise, and sauteed that in a big cast iron skillet with little corn oil. Dash of salt, then the remains of the lamb, sliced into strips. (It had been cooked medium rare.)

Stirred that around a bit, tossed in a small leftover of chorizo, onion and diced potato, then a couple of glugs of Salsa Chipotle Cosecha Purépecha. That's it.

Rolled it up to make a couple of earthy burritos. I heated the already cooked brown frijoles in the micro, spooned on some rice, and ate that on the side. Do I need to say they were riquísimos?

(Ron may never speak to me again. :-)

Don Cuevas