North African Meatballs with Couscous and Tomato Sauce

FOR THE SAFFRON TOMATO SAUCE
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups finely diced onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 inch piece cinnamon stick
Large pinch saffron, crumbled
Salt and pepper
3 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or water

FOR THE MEATBALLS
1 1/2 cups cubed day-old firm white bread
1 cup milk
1 pound ground beef or lamb
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons finely chopped scallion
All-purpose flour, for dusting
Olive oil or vegetable oil

FOR THE COUSCOUS (OPTIONAL)
1 cup giant couscous, m’hamsa, or medium couscous
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup golden raisins, soaked in hot water to soften, then drained
Salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Make the sauce: Heat oil over medium-high heat in a wide, heavy bottomed saucepan. Add onion and cook without browning until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomato paste, cinnamon and saffron, and stir well to incorporate. Season generously with salt and pepper, and allow to sizzle for 1 minute more. Add broth and simmer gently for 5 minutes. May be made several hours in advance, up to a day.

Make the meatballs: Put bread cubes and milk in a small bowl. Leave bread to soak until softened, about 5 minutes, then squeeze dry.

In a mixing bowl, put squeezed-out bread, ground meat and egg. Add salt, pepper, garlic, nutmeg, ginger, turmeric, paprika, cayenne, cloves, coriander and cumin. Mix well with hands to distribute seasoning. Add 2 tablespoons each of parsley, cilantro and scallion, and knead for a minute. May be prepared several hours in advance, up to a day.

With hands, roll mixture into small round balls about the size of a quarter. Dust balls lightly with flour. Heat a few tablespoons of oil, or a quarter-inch depth, over medium-high heat and fry meatballs until barely browned, about 2 minutes per side. Drain and blot on paper towel. Simmer meatballs in saffron-tomato sauce, covered, over medium heat for about 20 minutes, until tender.

Meanwhile, make the couscous, if desired: Cook according to package directions, fluff gently and stir in butter and raisins. Season with salt and cinnamon, and toss well.

Garnish meatballs with remaining parsley, cilantro and scallion. Serve with couscous and roasted tomatoes if desired.

Jia Jiang Noodles

1 cup ground pork
2 tablespoons rice wine
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cucumber, peeled and cored
4 green onions
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 ounce fresh root ginger, shredded
1 tablespoon yellow bean paste
7 ounces dry wheat noodles
Salt, to taste

Mix the pork with the rice wine, soy sauce, cornstarch and sugar, then cover and set aside to marinate for 15 minutes.

Slice the cucumber into fine juliennes. Cut the green onions on a sharp diagonal into similarly thin strips. Set aside, covered with dampened kitchen paper so that the strips keep their crispness.

Heat the oil in a wok over high heat. Add the onion, garlic and ginger, and fry vigorously for 45 seconds to 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the yellow bean paste and fry for 20 seconds, then add the pork and stir-fry for 2 minutes.

Add 1 cup water and cook for 1 minute more, or until the liquid thickens into a light sauce. Season with salt to taste.

Cook the noodles in boiling water according to the packet instructions. Drain well and divide between serving bowls.

Reheat the sauce if necessary and pour it over the noodles.

Arrange the sliced scallions and cucumber in small mounds next to the noodles and serve immediately.

Cook’s Tip: In other regions, lamb or beef would be used instead of pork, but the vegetables remain the same.

Burmese Chili Lamb

1 1/2 pounds boneless leg of lamb
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons dark soy sauce or regular soy sauce
2 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced jalapeños
3 small dried chiles, seeds retained, broken in half
1/2 teaspoon dried chile flakes
1 cup sliced yellow onion
10 Thai basil leaves, plus extra for garnish (optional)

Trim off the external sinew of the lamb leg. With a knife, separate the muscles by following along where the muscles naturally separate and slice against the grain into thin strips, removing any sinew as you work.

Transfer lamb to a bowl and use your hands to mix the meat with the cornstarch, pepper, salt, and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Let marinate at room temperature while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

In a dry wok or skillet, toast the cumin seeds and mustard seeds until the cumin is fragrant and the mustard seeds start to pop, no more than 30 seconds. Transfer to a mortar and use a pestle (or a coffee grinder used for grinding spices) to pulverize to a coarse powder.

In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauces, 1 teaspoon of the rice vinegar, and the sugar.

Heat the wok over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and swirl to coat the sides. Stir-fry the lamb until the pieces have separated and are lightly browned but not fully cooked, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in the wok. Add the garlic and jalapeños and cook briefly, about 15 seconds. Add the mustard-cumin blend, chiles, and chile flakes and stir-fry briefly. Pour in the sauce mixture, increase the heat to high, and let the sauce come to a boil.

Add the lamb and onions and cook, stirring often, until the lamb is cooked through but the onions are still slightly crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the basil and the remaining 1 teaspoon vinegar. Taste, adding more soy sauce or vinegar if desired. Garnish with more basil.

Grilled Lamb Chops with Salsa Verde

8–12 lamb chops, frenched, cut down to a single chop.
Olive oil for brushing
salt and pepper to taste

Italian Style Salsa Verde:
1 cup Italian parsley ( packed, tender stems ok) or sub part fresh mint
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 fat garlic clove
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 anchovy ( optional)
1/8 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons caper “liquid”
2 tablespoons capers
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat grill to med-high heat.

Brush lamb chops with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Make Italian salsa Verde: place herbs, garlic, lemon zest, and optional anchovy in a food processor. Pulse repeatedly until uniformly chopped. Add lemon juice, olive oil and caper liquid. Pulse to combine ( but do not make this smooth). Scrape into bowl. Stir in capers. Add salt and pepper to taste.

When the grill is hot, sear the chops for a few minutes on each side. You want good grill marks, while leaving them slightly rare on the inside, so a hot grill is essential. When cooked to desired temperature, platter or plate and serve with Italian Salsa Verde spooned over top.

Grilled Harissa Lamb Chops (or Steaks)

2–3 lbs lamb chops, lamb loin chops or sirloin steaks. ( see notes)
Grillable veggies – your choice of Zucchini, summer squash, bell pepper, onion, eggplant, mushrooms, etc.
spray olive oil ( or use regular)
15–20 fresh Mint leaves

Harissa Spice Rub:

1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon coriander
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 teaspoon whole caraway seeds (optional)

Harissa Yogurt:

1 cup plain, full-fat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon harissa paste ( store-bought or homemade Harissa paste) more to taste
1 teaspoon smoked paprika – optional

Serve with Grilled Veggies and your choice of grain, quinoa, basmati rice or couscous.

Garnish: a few torn fresh mint leaves and/or Italian parsley leaves

Preheat Grill to med-high.

Cut lamb chops into single chops or portions. ( Use a sharp chef’s knife and slice in between the bones.) Pat dry.

Mix spices and salt together in a shallow bowl ( big enough to fit chop)

Dip both sides of each chop, as well as fatty edge, into the Harissa rub, tap the excess off and place on a sheet pan.

If grilling veggies, lightly toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and grill these first. Cover, set aside until serving.

Grill the lamb chops. Spray the grill with olive oil spray. Place the chops down and grill 3 minutes (covered) or until good grill marks appear. (Don’t fiddle with them too much). Spray the top of lamb chops with spray olive oil, and turn them over. Turn the heat down to medium and grill another 3 minutes. Then, place the fatty edge of the lamb chop on the grill, so they are sitting upright, on their side, leaning them up against each other. ( See picture). Cover, and cook another 2 minutes or so, to melt off that fatty layer. (These are delicious served medium, but feel free to cook through on lower heat if that is your preference. ) Remove from grill, cover with foil until ready to serve.

Mix the yogurt with the harissa paste, starting conservatively, adding more to taste. Each Harissa paste has different levels of heat. I like to a whisk in a teaspoon of smoked paprika to bump up the smoky flavor- up to you.

To serve, cut the grilled veggies into bite-size pieces, and place them on a platter. Top with the grilled lamb chops. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.

Serve the Harissa yogurt on the side or spoon a little on each chop.

Serve with a cooked grain like quinoa, basmati rice or even couscous. I used Israeli couscous in the photos.

Coconut Rice with Cilantro Sauce (with any protein)

For the rice:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion (about 4 ounces), finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 cups white basmati rice, rinsed until the water runs clear
1 (14-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

Cooked fish, shrimp, chicken, pork, or steak

For the sauce:

Scant 1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, plus more as needed for serving
1 large bunch fresh cilantro, leaves and tender stems, coarsely chopped
4 lime wedges, for serving (optional)

In a large, lidded skillet or pan, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens and just starts to brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat it in the oil.

Add the coconut milk, then half-fill the empty can with water and add it to the pan. Add the salt and sugar, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low so the mixture is at a simmer and cover the pan. Cook for 10 or until rice is tender.

While the rice is cooking, in a small pan over high heat, combine the water, sugar, salt and crushed red pepper and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer the sauce until slightly reduced and syrupy, about 5 minutes, then remove from the heat.

Place the cilantro in a food processor and pulse to chop. Gradually pour in the syrup and pulse the cilantro until very finely chopped, and the sauce is combined. Taste and adjust the seasonings; the sauce should be slightly sweet, with a hint of heat. Add more crushed red pepper, sugar or salt, as needed.

Gently stir the rice and divide across 4 plates. Top with fish or other protein and drizzle the sauce over. Sprinkle with additional crushed red pepper flakes, if desired, and serve with a wedge of lime, if using.

Moussaka

Eggplant and Lamb

8 garlic cloves, finely grated, divided
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped mint, divided
2 tablespoons chopped oregano, divided
3 medium eggplants (about 3½ pounds total), sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more
2 pounds ground lamb
2 medium onions, chopped
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
2 Fresno chiles, finely chopped
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

Béchamel and Assembly

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/3 cups whole milk, warmed
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces farmer cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
2 ounces Pecorino or Parmesan, finely grated (about 1¾ cups), divided
3 large egg yolks, beaten to blend

Eggplant and Lamb

Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 475°. Whisk half of the garlic, ½ cup oil, 1 Tbsp. mint, and 1 Tbsp. oregano in a small bowl. Brush both sides of eggplant rounds with herb oil, making sure to get all the herbs and garlic onto eggplant; season with salt and pepper. Transfer eggplant to a rimmed baking sheet (it’s okay to pile the rounds on top of each other) and roast until tender and browned, 35–45 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400°.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a large wide pot over high. Cook lamb, breaking up with a spoon, until browned on all sides and cooked through and liquid from meat is evaporated (there will be a lot of rendered fat), 12–16 minutes. Strain fat through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean small bowl and transfer lamb to a medium bowl. Reserve 3 Tbsp. lamb fat; discard remaining fat.

Heat 2 Tbsp. lamb fat in same pot over medium-high (reserve remaining 1 Tbsp. lamb fat for assembling the moussaka). Add onion, cinnamon, 2½ tsp. salt, and ½ tsp. pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender and translucent, 8–10 minutes. Add chiles and remaining garlic and cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, until onion is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add paprika and tomato paste and cook until brick red in color, about 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced and no longer smells of alcohol, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and break up with a wooden spoon into small pieces (the seeds will shoot out at you if you’re too aggressive, so start slowly—puncture the tomato, then get your smash and break on!). Add lamb and remaining 1 Tbsp. mint and 1 Tbsp. oregano and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is evaporated and mixture looks like a thick meat sauce, 5–7 minutes. Pluck out and discard cinnamon stick.

Béchamel and Assembly

Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium until foaming. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until combined, about 1 minute. Whisk in warm milk and bring sauce to a boil. Cook béchamel, whisking often, until very thick (it should have the consistency of pudding), about 5 minutes; stir in salt. Remove from heat and whisk in farmer cheese and half of the Pecorino. Let sit 10 minutes for cheese to melt, then add egg yolks and vigorously whisk until combined and béchamel is golden yellow.

Brush a 13×9″ baking pan with remaining 1 Tbsp. lamb fat. Layer half of eggplant in pan, covering the bottom entirely. Spread half of lamb mixture over eggplant in an even layer. Repeat with remaining eggplant and lamb to make another layer of each. Top with béchamel and smooth surface; sprinkle with remaining Pecorino.

Bake moussaka until bubbling vigorously and béchamel is browned in spots, 30–45 minutes. Let cool 30 minutes before serving.

Do Ahead: Moussaka can be baked 1 day ahead. Let cool, then cover and chill, or freeze up to 3 months. Thaw before reheating in a 250° oven until warmed through, about 1 hour.

Source: Bon Appetit

Durban Lamb Curry

1 kg leg of lamb or shoulder (or 1 kg chicken), cubed
75 ml oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks (10 cm long)
20 ml medium strength masala curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
10 ml crushed garlic and ginger
4 curry leaves
5 ml whole fennel seeds
250 ml water (one cup)
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut in half
1 medium tomato, skinned and diced
Coriander (dhania) leaves for garnishing

Washed cube meat and drain water.

Heat oil and add diced onion, cloves and cinnamon sticks.

Add the masala powder mix, stir and add meat to the pot.

Add salt, garlic and ginger, curry leaves and fennel seeds.

Stir all ingredients together.

Allow to cool on a high heat for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking for 30 minutes.

As excess water and juices evaporate, add the additional cup of water, followed by the potato and tomato.

When both meat and vegetables are cooked (approximately 30 minutes), simmer on high heat for 5 minutes.

Garnish with coriander and serve with rice, roti and green salad.

Shish Barak (Lebanese Lamb Dumplings)

Makes about 40

For the filling:

1 pound ground lamb
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon harissa
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Make the filling by mixing and kneading the ground lamb meat with the rest of the filling ingredients. Mix well to amalgamate and leave refrigerated for at least a couple hours and up to overnight.

For the dough and the dressing:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup hot water
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon dried mint
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper, optional
1 cup thick yogurt (labneh or Fage)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

To make the dough, place the flour in a bowl and make a well in the middle. Add the salt, olive oil, and water into the well. Using a fork, beat the flour into the dough, switching to kneading with your hands once the dough thickens. Knead the dough on a smooth surface until the dough is very smooth and elastic. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest about 20 minutes.

To make the dumplings, roll 1/4 of the dough out on a flat surface. Roll out to about 1/16-inch thin, then cut into circles using a ravioli stamp or biscuit cutter.

Place a small ball of lamb filling in the center of the dough and fold into a crescent moon shape pinching hard all around the edge to seal. Pinch together the two tips and place on a lightly-floured sheet tray or flat plate.

To cook: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. In a nearby skillet, melt the butter with the dried mint and Aleppo pepper, if using. When the water boils, fill a large serving bowl with a ladleful of the cooking water to warm the bowl. Swish the water around and dump all but about 1/4 cup. Whisk the yogurt in the water, thinning it out and warming it.

Boil the dumplings in the water; once they float to the top, let them bob for 3 to 4 minutes (check one for doneness), then place them in the warm bowl with the yogurt. Swirl to coat and then drizzle the butter all over and sprinkle the pine nuts on top. Serve and eat immediately.

North African Tomato Sauce (for Meatballs)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 and 1/2 cups finely diced onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 inch piece cinnamon stick
Large pinch saffron, crumbled
Salt and pepper
3 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or water

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a wide, heavy bottomed saucepan. Add onion and cook without browning until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomato paste, cinnamon and saffron, and stir well to incorporate. Season generously with salt and pepper, and allow to sizzle for 1 minute more. Add broth and simmer gently for 5 minutes. May be made several hours in advance, up to a day.

Indonesian Lamb Curry

1 1/2 kg leg of lamb, fat trimmed, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 teaspoon cardamom seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
6 cloves
1/2 cinnamon stick, crumbled
2 tablespoon oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
Stem of lemongrass
400 gram can of crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
1 cup coconut milk
1-4 chopped red chilies (optional, if you prefer spicy curry to mild)

Finely grind coriander seeds peppercorns, cardamom, cumin, cloves, and cinnamon stick.

Heat oil in wok. Add lamb in three batches. Fry until brown. Remove and reserve.

Add onion, garlic, ginger, and lemongrass to pan. Stir fry until onion is tender. Add spice mixtgure and stir fry for 3 minutes.

Return lamb to pan with undrained crushed tomatoes, water, and cocnut milk. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring often, for 1 ½ hour or until lamb is tender.

From Indonesian Cooking.

Coconut Satay (Lamb, Beef, Chicken, or Pork)

4 lamb leg chops (about 800 grams)
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon tamarind sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon sambal oelek
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Remove fat and bone from lamb and cut into cubes.

Combine lamb with all remaining ingredients except oils and marinate for 2 hours or overnight.

Thread lamb onto skewers and brush with a combination of the 2 oils. Cook under a hot preheated grill for 3 minutes.

Lamb Stir Fry with Pomegranate

2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 1/2 pound boneless leg of lamb, thinly sliced against the grain
1 teaspoon paprika
4 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 medium red onion, cut into 1/2 wedges
Cooked rice (for serving)
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoons chopped pistachios
Fresh oregano, mint, and/or cilantro leaves (for serving)

Toast cumin and coriander seeds in a small dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Let cool, then finely chop. Toss lamb with cumin, coriander, paprika, garlic, vinegar, and 2 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl to coat; season with salt and pepper.

Cover and chill 15 minutes.

Whisk yogurt and 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.

Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook lamb, tossing occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes per batch; transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Add onion to skillet and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown and soften, about 3 minutes. Add ½ cup water; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender and water is evaporated, about 3 minutes. Return lamb to skillet and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve lamb over rice, topped with yogurt, pomegranate seeds, pistachios, and herbs.

DO AHEAD: Lamb can be marinated 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

Lamb Chops with Cherries and Port

2 teaspoons olive oil
4 4-to 5-ounce loin lamb chops
1/3 cup chopped shallots
3/4 cup ruby Port
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
3 tablespoons cherry jam
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Chopped fresh mint or parsley

Heat oil in heavy medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper. Add lamb to skillet; cook to desired doneness, turning often, about 10 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer lamb to plate. Pour off drippings from skillet. Add shallots to same skillet; sauté 1 minute. Add Port, broth, cherries, jam, vinegar, and cardamom; boil until cherries plump and liquid is syrupy, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over lamb. Sprinkle with mint.

Rich and Meaty Lamb Ragu

2 pounds stew lamb, cut in chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 onions
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons fresh sage
8 cloves garlic
1 big carrot, peeled
Olive oil
2 cups red wine
1 28-ounce can peeled whole plum tomatoes

Pat the lamb chunks dry with a paper towel. Liberally coat the lamb chunks with salt and pepper and set aside. Peel and coarsely chop the onions, and chop the garlic. Chop the carrot into thin rounds.

Place an oven-proof Dutch oven or heavy stockpot over medium-high heat, and add olive oil to cover the bottom thinly. When oil is hot, add the lamb and brown deeply. Do this in batches if necessary. Don’t worry about drying out the meat — you want it browned darkly for good flavor. (I usually brown each batch for at least 10 minutes, taking care not to crowd the pan. You want the meat to brown, not steam-cook.)

When the meat is thoroughly browned, add the onions. Lower the heat, and cook slowly over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the onions are golden. Add the rosemary and sage, garlic, and the carrots. Reduce heat to medium-low and sauté until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.

Add wine and continue to simmer until liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Crush the tomatoes in the can with a fork or back of a spoon, then add them and their juices to the pot. Bring to a simmer, then cover and place in a 275-degree oven for 3 to 4 hours. Alternately, put everything in a slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on HIGH or at least 8 hours on LOW. The longer it cooks the more tender it will be. When ready to serve, go through with two forks and shred any remaining chunks of meat. Taste and season if necessary with additional salt and pepper.

Serve over pasta with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Harira with Lamb

1 cup dried chickpeas
1 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, cut into 3/8 inch dice
7 oz boneless lamb rack or shoulder, cut into 3/8-inch dice
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp superfine sugar
2 1/2 lb canned tomatoes, chopped
5 cups chicken stock or water
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
pinch of saffron threads
3 cups baby spinach leaves
4 tbsp coarsely chopped cilantro
4 to 6 lemon wedges
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Start preparing the soup the night before by putting the dried chickpeas in a large bowl with the baking soda and covering them with plenty of cold water—it should cover the chickpeas by at least twice their height. Leave at room temperature to soak overnight.

The next day, drain the soaked chickpeas, place in a large saucepan, and cover with plenty of fresh water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 1 to 1½ hours, until the chickpeas are tender. Drain in a colander and set aside.

Place a large saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion and fry until soft and translucent. Increase the heat, add the diced lamb, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the lamb is sealed on all sides and has taken on a bit of color. Add the tomato purée and sugar and mix well. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the chopped tomatoes, drained chickpeas, stock, and some salt and pepper.

Bring the soup to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Use a large spoon to skim off any scum that forms on the surface, then cook for about 35 minutes, until the meat is tender.

Squeeze the lemon juice into the soup. Season the soup with the cumin, ginger, and saffron. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper.

When ready to serve, bring the soup back to a boil. Wash and drain “the spinach leaves and chop them coarsely. Add the spinach and cilantro to the soup just before you bring it to the table. Serve with a wedge of lemon.

Old-School Stuffed Peppers

4 bell peppers, any color
Salt
5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 lb of lean ground beef
1 1/2 cup of cooked rice
1 cup chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned (if using can, drain of excess liquid first)
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
Fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 tsp of Worcestershire Sauce
Dash of Tabasco sauce

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, cut top off peppers 1 inch from the stem end, and remove seeds. Add several generous pinches of salt to boiling water, then add peppers and boil, using a spoon to keep peppers completely submerged, until brilliant green (or red if red peppers) and their flesh slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Drain, set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat 4 tbsp of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring often, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a minute more. Remove skillet from heat, add meat, rice, tomatoes, and oregano, and season generously with salt and pepper. Mix well. (You may find it easier to put the ingredients at this point into a large bowl and mix together with your hands.)

Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil inside the peppers. Arrange the cut side of the peppers up in a baking dish, then stuff peppers with filling. Combine ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and 1/4 cup of water in a small bowl, then spoon over filling. Add 1/4 cup of water to the baking dish. Place in oven and bake for 40-50 minutes (or longer, depending on how big the peppers are that you are stuffing), until the internal temperature of the stuffed peppers is 150-160°F.

Meat Hook Chili

10 dried guajillo chiles
2 pounds ground beef
2 pounds ground pork
1 pound ground lamb
Olive oil
3 large yellow onions, roughly chopped
1 head garlic, separated into cloves, peeled, and chopped, or to taste
Two 16-ounce cans whole tomatoes
Three 12-ounce cans hominy
1 cup or so toasted cumin seeds, finely ground
1/4 cup cayenne pepper, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cheap beer or beef stock (if needed)
White wine vinegar or cider vinegar (if needed)
Sour cream, shredded cheese, onions, scallions, and saltines for serving

Take the chiles, pull off the stems, and shake out the seeds. Boil water equivalent to the volume of the chiles (about 4 cups) in a saucepan and then turn off the heat. Make sure that the pan has a lid, or when you add the chiles you’ll pepper-spray your kitchen with the spicy steam that will result. Add the chiles, punch them down, and put on the lid. Basically, you want to wait until the pan has cooled to the point where you can touch the sides with your hand (45 minutes or so).

Now puree the whole thing with an immersion blender until it’s smooth. Run through a strainer to get any bigger pieces out.

Brown meat in the pot you’re going to be simmering your chili in. Sauté the diced onions and garlic separately in some olive oil in a large sauté pan, then add them to the meat.

Now add your chile paste, tomatoes, hominy, most of the cumin, the cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste to the combination of meat and onions. After it simmers over low heat for a while, say 45 minutes, taste it and correct the seasoning. Adjust garlic, heat (cayenne), cumin, and/or salt.

Simmer for another hour.

Hit the pot with the immersion blender, making sure to break up all the clumps of meat and catch any stray tomatoes. This may take a while! You’re shooting for Hormel consistency here. Now give the chili a taste. Is it too thick? Add beer or stock. Too fatty? Add some white wine vinegar or cider vinegar.

Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese, onions, scallions, and saltines.

Berbere Lamb Chops with Lentils and Cucumbers

3/4 pound green lentils
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and halved
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 medium carrot, peeled
1 sprig rosemary (optional)
Water
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon berbere spice blend, plus more for rubbing lamb chops (see note above)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice from 2 lemons
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 bone-in lamb rib or loin chops, cut 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-inches thick
1/2 cup packed mint leaves, torn
Type of fire: two-zone indirect

Grill heat: high

Add lentils, onion, garlic, carrot, and rosemary, if using, and cover with at least 2 inches of water. Season with salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower heat and simmer until lentils are tender, about 40 minutes. Let cool slightly, then drain lentils, discarding aromatics, and let cool. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, toss lentils with cucumber, 1/2 teaspoon berbere spice, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Salt lamb on both sides and let sit at room temperature for 40 minutes while preparing grill.

Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Alternatively, set half the burners on a gas grill to high. Cover and preheat for 10 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Rub a light dusting of berbere spice onto lamb chops. Place lamb chops on cool side of grill. Cover with an aluminum pan and let cook until instant read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chops registers 110°F for rare or 120°F for medium-rare.

Move lamb to hot side of grill and cook until browned on both sides, 2-3 minutes per side and instant read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chops registers 120°F for rare or 130°F for medium-rare. Transfer to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes.

Toss mint into lentil salad and serve with lamb chops.

Yogurt-Marinated Lamb and Zucchini Skewers

For the Marinade and Lamb:
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice plus 1 teaspoon zest from 2 lemons
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup tightly packed mint leaves
1/4 cup tightly packed cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons freshly minced garlic (about 6 medium cloves)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

For the Skewers:
1 large red onion, sliced into 1 1/2-inch squares about 3 layers each
1 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
Wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes prior to use

Type of fire: Direct
Grill heat: medium-high

For the Marinade: Place yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, mint leaves, cilantro leaves, garlic, salt, paprika, and black pepper in the jar of a blender. Blend marinade until smooth. Place lamb cubes in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour marinade into bag and seal, removing as much air as possible. Place in refrigerator and marinate for at least 4 and up to 8 hours.

For the Skewers: Thread lamb onto skewers, alternating with onion and zucchini.

Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Grill skewers until well browned on all sides and center of lamb registers 130°F on an instant-read thermometer, 4-5 minutes per side. Transfer skewers to platter and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.