Monday, July 25, 2011

Morrocan Lamb and Dried Fruit Stuffed Pepper

     Moroccan cuisine offers many recipes that combine dried fruit and meat.  Lamb is often the meat featured in those dried fruit recipes.  This style of dried fruit and meat stuffed pepper is popular in North Africa, the middle east and Turkey.
     I could not find the traditional Moroccan name for this recipe.  The Moroccan recipes that I have referred to in the past for this entree were all written with English titles.  I do not know the languages of Morocco well enough to take a stab at the translation.  The translation web sites do not always give English phonetic spellings of words.  Like anywhere else in the world, the recipe could have been given a regional name or a slang name that may have nothing to do with the featured ingredients in the recipe.  Using translation websites can be tricky.
     Moroccan cooks are experts at using complicated spice mixtures.  The flavor of the spice mixture for this recipe is very aromatic and good tasting.  If bland tasting stuffed peppers have lost their appeal, then this recipe will liven thing up!
     Moroccan Lamb and Dried Fruit Stuffed Pepper:
     This recipe makes enough of the stuffing for 2 small bell peppers or 1 large bell pepper.  Any extra stuffing can be formed into meatball shapes and baked in the pan with the stuffed pepper.  The meatballs can be used for another recipe.
     Soak 1/2 cup of basmati rice in water for 1 hour.
     Rinse the rice with cold water, till the water runs off clear in color.
     Heat a sauce pot over high heat.
     Add 3/4 cup of water.
     Add the soaked rice.
     Bring the water to a boil.
     Reduce the temperature to medium low/low heat.
     Simmer the rice for 10 minutes, so the rice becomes only halfway cooked.
     Drain the water off of the rice with a fine mesh strainer.
     Cool the rice under cold running water.
     Drain the water off of the rice.
     Place the half cooked rice into a mixing bowl.
     Add about 6 ounces of ground lamb.
     Heat a saute pan over medium heat.
     Add 3 pats of unsalted butter.
     Add 2 tablespoons of minced onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced celery.
     Add 4 minced garlic cloves.
     Saute till the onions begin to caramelize.
     Set the vegetables aside to cool.
     Add the sauteed vegetables to the stuffing in the mixing bowl.
     Add 5 dried apricot halves that are diced into small pieces.
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped golden raisons.
     Add 2 pinches of cinnamon.
     Add 2 pinches of cumin.
     Add 3 pinches of coriander.
     Add 1 pinch of ground cardamom.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 2 pinches of dried mint leaves.
     Add 1 pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 2 pinches of turmeric.
     Add 1 pinch of saffron.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Thoroughly mix the stuffing ingredients together.
     Cut 1 large green bell pepper in half lengthwise.
     Carefully trim the stem, seeds and ribs off of 1 half of the bell pepper.
     Fill the bell pepper with the stuffing, so that the stuffing is mounded higher than the pepper.
     Smooth the stuffing, so it looks nice.
     Brush a baking pan with vegetable oil.
     Set the stuffed pepper on the baking pan.
     Bake in a 325ยบ oven, till the stuffing becomes fully cooked and the stuffing becomes a light brown color.  (About 20 minutes.)
     While the stuffed pepper is baking, the two sauces can be made.
     Harissa Sauce:
     Heat a saute pan over medium heat.
     Add 5 pats of unsalted butter.
     Add 3 minced garlic cloves.
     Add 1/3 cup of minced onion.
     Saute till the onions just begin to caramelize.
     Add 1/3 cup of harissa sauce or 3 tablespoons of harissa paste.
     Add 2 pinches of black pepper.
     Add 3 pinches of coriander.
     Add 2 pinches of mild paprika.
     Add 2 cups of light chicken broth.
     Stir the sauce.
     Simmer and reduce the harissa sauce, till it becomes medium thin sauce consistency.
     Keep the harissa sauce warm over very low heat.
     Garlic Mint Yogurt Sauce:
     Place 3 ounces of goat milk yogurt into a small bowl.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 3 pinches of dried mint leaves.
     Add 1 pinch of finely chopped Italian parsley.
     Add 1 tablespoon of virgin olive oil, while stirring.
     Add a few drops of water at a time, while stirring, till the sauce becomes a thin sauce consistency.
     Set the sauce aside for a few minutes, so the flavors meld.
     Place the lamb and dried fruit stuffed pepper on a plate.
     Spoon a generous amount of the harissa sauce onto the plate around the stuffed pepper.
     Spoon the garlic mint yogurt sauce over the middle of the stuffed pepper.
     Garnish the plate with an Italian parsley sprig.
     The aroma and flavor of this lamb stuffed pepper is captivating.  There is a hint of fruit flavor in every bite.  This is a great tasting stuffed pepper entree!

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