Paula Wolfert kindly posted this recipe which is from her new book “The Moroccan Cookbook” to be published by HarperCollins Publishers in 2011. Experience has taught us that, while ingredients can be substituted in Paula’s recipes, if you follow her exactly, you’ll be experiencing the real thing. Argan Oil is available online-get the culinary version. It is a flavoring oil. A Clay Coyote Large Tagine works well for this dish or a large 6-1/2 Qt. Le Crueset or round oval dutch oven. We cooked it in the Le Crueset and served it in the tagine. We were totally amazed to find the Bob’s Red Mill Corn Polenta right there in the Flour and stuff department at our local CashWise in Hutchinson. Otherwise it’s easily available at organic foods stores.
Corn Couscous with Lamb and Vegetables
Copyright 2010 by Paula Wolfert
Couscous made with corn grits rather than semolina is known as baddaz in south western Morocco, and it is becoming very popular all over the country. This particular recipe is from the Souss valley and it is interesting because it uses mint along with cilantro rather than the more conventional popular combination of cilantro and parsley. Here the mint has an aromatically remarkable influence on the meat and the flavor of the corn.
The corn grits are not washed before the first steaming. You will need three to four times more broth to moisten this couscous and it will take twice as long to cook. On the other hand, it is absolutely wonderful. Moroccans say you can’t stop eating it!
1 pound fresh lamb shoulder, bone in, cut into 4 large chunks
Marinade: 2 peeled garlic cloves,
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon dried Egyptian Mint or spearmint
1 pinch of hot red pepper
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt.
½ cup chick peas or ½ 20 ounce can cooked chick peas
1 medium red onion, grated, (1 cup)
Argan or Extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
Pinch of cayenne
3 tablespoons saffron water, or pinch of dried saffron soaked in 3 tablespoons water
Pinch of ground turmeric
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup peeled, seeded and diced fresh or
1 preserved lemon, pulp removed,
rinsed and drained
1 dozen sprigs of cilantro
1 dozen sprigs of fresh mint
1 ½ pounds corn grits**
1 pound carrots
1 pound purple topped turnips or
1 pound small zucchini
1 butternut squash or pumpkin
2 sweet red peppers, cored, seeded, & quartered
1 dried hot pepper, cored, seeded, soaked
in water but left whole (Mexican guajillo)
1 tablespoon butter or smen, optional
Fresh mint leaves for garnish
1 One day in advance, marinate the meat in a crushed mixture of garlic, spices and salt. Soak the chickpeas overnight in plenty of water to cover.
2. The following day, drain the fresh chick peas, cover with fresh, cold water, and cook, covered, l hour. Drain, cool, and remove the skins by submerging the chick peas in a bowl of cold water and gently rubbing them between the fingers. The skins will rise to the top of the water. Discard the skins and set the peeled chick peas aside for step 5. (If using canned chick peas, peel them and set them aside for step 5.)
3. Bring the spiced meat to room temperature. Meanwhile, place the onion, 2 tablespoons oil, ginger, paprika, saffron water, turmeric and dried herbs in a 5 quart casserole set over medium heat. Cook, stirring from time to time, until the onion dissolves into a puree, about 10 minutes.
4. Add the meat and slowly brown on all sides. Meanwhile, stud the lemon with cloves and stuff with the fresh herbs; tie up with a piece of string. Add to the casserole with the tomato, and 8 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 hour.
5. Add the peeled chick peas to the pot, and cook for 1 more hour, or until the meat is butter tender and the bones are easily removed and discarded.
6. Meanwhile fasten a Clay Coyote stoneware colander or a metal couscous top over a tall pot of water and bring the water to the boil. Before boiling, place a rolled up strip of foil around the top of the pot to secure and seal the colander.
7. In a wide bowl, toss the grits with 3 tablespoons argan oil and then work in 3/4 cup cold water. Ten minutes later moisten with another 3/4 cup water.
8. Add the corn grits to the colander, cover, and cook for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables: pare the carrots and turnips or rutabagas and cut them into 1-1/2 inch lengths. Trim the zucchini ends, halve and cut into 1 ½ inch lengths. Peel and cut up the pumpkin.
9. Turn steamed cornmeal into a wide shallow bowl; gradually moisten with 3 cups cold water. Use a long pronged whisk to break up clumps. Return to the colander and steam for another 45 minutes. At the same time, add the turnips and carrots to the casserole and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Add the pumpkin. zucchini and peppers, and continue cooking until all the vegetables are soft, about 25 minutes. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the casserole from the heat; pick out and discard the preserved lemon bundle.
10. Dump the couscous into the serving dish and moisten with 2 cups of the broth and a little butter or smen, if using. Use a long wire whisk to smooth out the lumps. Spread out then form a huge well in the center. With a perforated spoon, transfer the meat and vegetables into the well. Top with sprigs of fresh mint. Serve the remaining broth on the side.
** Bob’s red mill organic polenta corn grits
Variation: Although this version uses fresh marinated lamb, the original recipe is made with confit of lamb called khlii or 1 ½ cups fast track khlii. Recipes for these will be in Paula’s new book.