Friday, October 8, 2010

Harira it up.

So, if you've been reading from the beginning you would know that I had a deal with a farmer to purchase a lamb. I have not gotten a lamb from him. I'm not going to say it's all his fault, because after I demanded my deposit back and said that I was going to tell people about the type of business he does he offered me a lamb. I declined.

I will tell you what happened and why I declined.

Once upon a time there were four bridesmaids, and they loved the bride dearly. They decided to throw her a lua. It was to be wonderful, the smallest bridesmaid said "ooh, ooh, let's get a suckling pig!" and there was much rejoicing. She contacted a local farmer, who would sell her one at a decent price and gave him a deposit.

Two weeks before the lua, the farmer called the short bridesmaid and said she would not get a pig, but she could order one from someone else, but it would cost a lot more. She made other plans.

The wedding went off without a hitch, and the happy couple departed. The small bridesmaid called the farmer and reminded him that he said she could buy a lamb. He said yes and she gave him a deposit. When butcher time came, he did not call her. The bridesmaid sent him an email, and got a promise of a call and a slaughter date for her lamb. The call never came. Weeks went by and no call came from the farmer. The bridesmaid got really pissed off and wrote a nasty email and asked paypal to help her get her money back.

The farmer was clearly scared by her wrath and refunded her deposit and said she could have a lamb. The bridesmaid, still too pissed after the run around, no pig, and no lamb, told him where to stick it.

The end.

Basically bad business happening. I'm pretty sure I would never have heard from the man if I hadn't gotten pissy, and I don't want to do business with someone like that.

Anyhow I don't have a lamb and this makes me sad. I love lamb, it's tender and flavorful. I was also hoping to have some of those parts that are really hard to find, bits for haggis (don't worry, a Scotchtoberfest will happen, and you will hear about it), and especially neck slices.

I did luck out the other day and find neck and shoulder slices, and those are ok, a bit meaty perhaps, and lacking in the shear quantity of bone that neck slices have, but still a good soup cut. Lamb soup is wonderful. I highly recommend it. However don't use stew meat, or shank. What you need is lots and lots of bone. You could probably fake it with soup bones and stew meat, but you also don't have the connective tissue that the neck has. Also lamb neck slices are dirt cheap if you can find them. Like around a dollar a pound, regardless of how organic and pastured that meat is.

My favorite type of lamb soup is Harira, a traditional Moroccan soup. Normally eaten during Ramadan, I like to eat it during the week. This soup defiantly gets better with age so it's best to make a bunch at once. I usually make a big pot, freeze half of it and later we have soup again.

Ok, so you might have guessed, that I am not Moroccan and totally found this in a book, but it's so amazing, and I make it different than the books says, but it is still traditional. And if you serve it with Moroccan bread, it's about the best meal you can have.

I like to make the Moroccan bread, because it only takes one rise. That means that I can come home, start the bread, make a salad, heat the soup and in 1.75 hours we have fresh bread with no hassle. I will give you both recipes today. But only because I feel like I've been neglecting you.

On a side note, you might think I put a lot of salt into things, but I use Kosher salt, and because of the shape of Kosher salt, it actually takes up a lot more space, for the same weight, than table salt. If you use table salt, use a scant 2 tsp. for every Tbs. in my recipes. The reason to use Kosher salt is because it's good for sprinkling, it dissolves quickly and it sticks to food when you're salting meat or vegetables. It also does not contain iodine, which can impart a strange taste to your food.

Moroccan Bread

Ingredients for one loaf:

2 C. King Aurthur all purpose unbleached white flour
1 C. King Aurthur white whole wheat flour
1/3 C. milk - scalded and cooled
1/2 C. warm water
2 tsp. dry yeast
cooking spray
coarse sea salt


Spray a cake pan well with cooking spray, set aside. In a bowl mix the two flours together. Mix the yeast in the water and set aside for five minutes. Make a well in the center of flour, pour in your milk and yeast. Stir in a little flour from the sides of the well to make a thick batter and let sit for 15 minutes.

Mix in the rest of the flour, turn out onto a clean board and knead the dough well for 10 minutes. Pat out into a round the size of your cake pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about an hour. Heat the oven to 425. Just before you put the bread in the oven brush it with water and sprinkle it with the coarse sea salt. Do not put salt into the dough. I know it's not there, that is on purpose. Salt inhibits yeast, and this dough is only risen once, so, no salt in the bread, the salt on top will be enough.

Bake the bread for about 45-60 minutes, until it is brown and sounds hollow when tapped.

This bread does not keep well and is best eaten fresh.



2-3 lbs. lamb neck or neck and shoulder slices
1 Tbs. grapeseed oil
1 large onion - chopped
2 cloves garlic - minced
1 Tbs. ground cumin
1 Tbs. smoked paprika
1 Tbs. coriander seed - ground
1/2 bunch cilantro - chopped
several grinds of fresh pepper
2 Tbs. kosher salt
4 Tbs. tomato paste
2 cans of diced tomatoes
1 C. yellow lentils
Cilantro and lemon to garnish


Get out a crock pot, and turn it onto warm. In a pan, add the oil and brown all of the meat a little at a time, being sure not to crowd the pan. Put the meat into the crock pot. Cook the onions in the oil left from the meat. When they are starting to brown and become clear add them to the crock. Put everything into the crock pot add water to just cover and cook on low for about six - eight hours.

With a slotted spoon remove all the meat and let cool slightly. Pick the meat from the bones and shred it. Return the meat to the crock and let cook for a few minutes. Skim the fat from the top of the soup before you serve it.

Serve the soup with bread, cilantro and lemon. This makes enough for about 8 servings.

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