Blood Orange Lamb

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While we like a lot of the same dishes and flavors, Selim and I approach cooking in completely different ways. He likes to combine flavors and add a pinch of this and a dash of that, until he ends up with a delicious end result. Frequently (and unfortunately) this doesn’t lend itself to sharing on our blog, because by the time he reaches his final dish, he’s forgotten or can’t figure out exactly the amount of different ingredients that he’s used. Now me on the other hand, I’m way less creative. I like to find intriguing recipes and use them as a guide, makes tweaks here and there for our personal tastes. But tonight I pulled a Selim! I completely winged it for this dish and am pretty proud of myself. I think next time I would do do it with a lamb shoulder instead to have a little less fat.

In terms of flavor, the meat, carrots, and broth have a very meaty flavor, but the blood orange “gremichurri” as we called it (halfway between a gremolata and a chimichurri) really is the fun and bright flavor counterpoint here! It’s a great option for winter – heavy, hearty meat dish to stick to your bones and warm you up, topped with some brightness of winter citrus.

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Blood Orange Lamb

Ingredients: 
  • 2 tsp neutral oil
  • 4 lamb shanks
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 7 cloves garlic, minced (divided)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 4 cups beef (or lamb if you so happened to have it!) stock
  • ~20 baby carrots
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 blood orange, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp olive oil
Instructions: 
  1. In a large dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Season the lamb shanks liberally with salt & pepper. Sear on all sides for just a minute or two (may have to do in batches). Then remove the lamb to the side.
  2. Add the onions to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes. Follow with 6 cloveds of minced garlic and cook another 2-3 minutes.
  3. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Add the bay leaves and all of the spices and bring the liquid to a simmer.
  4. Return the lamb to the pot. Pour in the beef stock and the carrot. Nestle everything under the liquid. Bring the liquid to a boil.
  5. Lower back to a light simmer and cover. Braise for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
  6. Meanwhile, chop up the the leaves and tender stems of the parsley. Combine this in a small bowl with the remaining clove of minced garlic , the zest and juice of the blood orange, and the olive oil to taste.
  7. At this point, the meat should be very tender and falling off the bones. Remove the lamb and carrots to the side. Increase heat to a vigorous simmer to reduce the liquid by half. Pull the meat off the bones and shred into bite-sized pieces.
  8. Serve over rice or couscous, topping the starch with lamb, carrots, and then the reduced sauce.
Serves 4

Chermoula Carrots

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One of the best things about writing this blog is the introduction to foods and dishes that I didn’t know about beforehand. Today, I learned about chermoula! (Or charmoula – like so many words translated from the original Arabic, this one has more than one spelling.) When we decided to make our Tangy Moroccan Meatballs yesterday, I wanted to stick with the flavors of Morocco for the entire dinner. This lead us to this recipe, from a lovely site that I think I’ll visit again – Taste of Maroc.

Chermoula itself is a condiment in the pesto family in terms of texture or consistency. It is traditional to North African countries like Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya, although the Moroccans claim original ownership. It’s one of those things where there is no one single recipe – there are regional variations, as well as changes from neighbor to neighbor. The basics include fresh herbs (parsley and cilantro), olive oil, and lemon juice. The other ingredients can range from basic spices like cumin, paprika, and coriander to harissa paste to onions or even pureed grapes (Tunisian tradition)! The paprika and cumin additions we used tonight seem to be fairly common in Morocco, at least as my internet perusing has informed me.

These carrots are basically just a vessel for the chermoula. It makes them (and anything else you might feel so inclined to cover with chermoula) into a bright and herbaceous dish. These are a perfect side dish to any meat, especially something that’s heavier or spicy. Furthermore, the flavor and lovely presentation belies the fact that it really takes you no time to prepare the dish. As I was eating (and enjoying!) this last night, I also thought that it probably would be equally as delicious and maybe a little fresher tasting if we’d cooked the carrots and just topped them with the chermoula without cooking the condiment at all. Note to self for next time.

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Chermoula Carrots

(Adapted from Taste of Maroc)
Ingredients: 
  • 6 large carrots
  • Water
  • ~1 cup chermoula
    • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
    • 1 1/2 cups fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
    • 1 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1 tsp paprika
    • 3 tbsp olive oil
    • 1/4 cup lemon juice
    • 5 turns fresh ground black pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Slice the carrots on the bias, cutting pieces roughly the size of a baby carrot.
  2. Steam the carrots in a pan. Depending on the size of your pan, add just enough water create a thin layer of water coating the bottom and place over medium heat. Add the carrots and cover with a lid to steam.
  3. Cook the carrots for ~ 8-10 minutes, until they are al dente.
  4. Meanwhile (or make ahead!), make the chermoula by combining all of the remaining ingredients in a food processor (or, if you’re cooler than we are and have a mortar & pestle, crush them that way!). Pulse briefly until you have a well-combined, but not obliterated sauce.
  5. Pour the chermoula into the pan with the carrots. Cook, with the lid on, over low heat for an additional 5 minutes.
Serves 2-4