Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Couscous Royale

When our children were small, Gerard went hunting almost every Saturday and I took the girls to lunch. We alternated between our favorite Chinese restaurant and a Moroccan one for a Couscous Royal. When we moved back to the States, it was easy to find good Chinese food, but the couscous was nearly impossible—so I learned to make it myself. I did not have a "couscousier" or the super-fine grains to steam, so I improvised. To this day, my daughter, Jennifer, asks for it on her birthday. We had it Sunday, so I took the opportunity to ask Gerard to take a photo and I wrote down my recipe. Here they are. You can just make the Lamb Couscous or add any or all of the other meats, which make it a "Royal."

Couscous is actually the name of the granules of semolina served in North Africa instead of pasta or rice. It has also become the name of dish of stew served with it.

Lamb Couscous
(Serves 4–6 people)
3 pounds lamb shoulder, cut in cubes (use all bones in the stew)
3 onions, peeled and quartered
2 cans diced tomatoes (no basil)
Salt and pepper
1 can chick peas
2 small turnips, peeled and quartered
5 carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch slices
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cubed
2 zucchini, peeled and cubed
2 quarts water
1 cup golden raisins
1 box couscous (I use Near East)
Harissa sauce (optional)
In a Dutch oven, place the lamb, onions, tomatoes, water, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Add turnips and carrots and bring to a boil. Lower flame and allow to simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered. Add the eggplant and zucchini and chick peas and simmer another 30 minutes. Soak the raisins in ¼ cup of boiling water (this will make them fluffy instead of dry and hard).

Make the couscous according to the box instructions.  Serve the grains in a separate dish and the raisins on the side.  (The stew can be slightly improved by making it the day before, chilling it overnight  and degreasing it before reheating—but the Moroccans do not do that, so it is not necessary).  The store-bought Harissa is extremely strong and should be used sparingly, but it is recommended for those who love spicy foods.

Lemon Chicken
Good-quality organic chicken pieces
Lemon juice (bottled is fine)
Peanut oil
Salt and pepper
Lemon slices (optional)
Parsley sprigs (optional)

 Quantities are not important, but spacing is! Make sure that you fill up the roasting pan with just enough chicken to make one row of pieces that do NOT touch each other, and add just enough liquid to cover most of the chicken while marinating. Prepare liquid marinade: equal parts lemon juice and ½ peanut oil in a roasting pan to come half way up the roasting pan.  (salt and pepper the chicken pieces and place them in the marinade in the roasting pan. Turn them over so that all sides are basted with liquid and then leave skin side down. Marinate for at least 45 minutes, or up to 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Pour out and discard most of the marinade (leaving the lower quarter of each chicken piece to cook in the marinade). Turn the chicken pieces right side up so that the skin side is showing. Only the parts of the chicken that are out of the marinade will brown. Place in the oven and roast until the chicken is golden brown (usually 45–60 minutes). When you take the chicken out of the pan, drain on paper towel and place on serving platter with lemon slices and parsley sprigs as a garnish.

Lamb Meatballs
1 pound ground lamb
1 pound ground beef
1 package sausage meat
Salt and pepper
1 egg (beaten)
½ cup plain bread crumbs, soaked in 1 cup of water
Preheat oven to 350° F. Mix the meats, season, and add the egg and the bread crumbs. When mixed, quickly form meatballs. (If you work them too much, they will become hard.) Place them in a roasting pan with 2 tablespoons of water at the bottom of the pan. Bake until golden brown (usually about 30–40 minutes).

Merguez (lamb sausage)
Olive oil
These lamb sausages should be cooked in a frying pan with a tablespoon or two of water until they are cooked inside. Remove them from the pan and discard any excess water. Wipe the pan clean, and, just before serving, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in it. Add the merguez and brown. 

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