All posts tagged “north african

Tunisian Lamb & Quince Stew

Winter has certainly arrived in Sydney and although it doesn’t get quite as cold as in certain parts of the world, it’s that time of the year when I’m definitely craving the warmth embrace of a hearty stew. And the following Tunisian Lamb & Quince stew really does the job and keeps you toasty with all of the beautiful North African spices and flavours.

Australia provides some of the best lamb in the world and a slow cooked lamb shoulder is just an absolute joy to eat. Quinces however are a much less used fruit, since you have to cook it to be edible, it’s an intimidating what the hell is that type thing in the market but in reality it’s just a giant fragrant sour astringent apple.

The following recipe is adapted from here, it makes quite a bit of stew but luckily it also freezes well so you’ll have enough stew to keep you going for many a winter day.

Tunisian Lamb and Quince Stew

spices

Tunisian Lamb & Quince Stew

(serves 6)

2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
6 medium cloves(peeled and smashed)
2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
1.5 kg lamb shoulder (cut into cubes 3-4 cm)
Salt & Pepper
2 brown onions (roughly chopped)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cinnamon stick
pinch of saffron threads
1.5 litres chicken broth
2 large quinces (de-cored and cut into large chunks)
2 tablespoons honey

Toast the coriander and caraway seeds in a pan till fragrant. Then transfer to a mortar and pestle, crush and pound. Combine with the garlic, chilli flakes, paprika, cayenne pepper, 2 tablespoons salt and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large bowl and marinate the cubed lamb in the mixture overnight in the fridge. Take the lamb out 45min before cooking to bring to room temperature.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot. Sear the lamb in batches until golden brown.

Remove the lamb and add in the onions, tomato paste, cinnamon stick, garlic from the marinade and saffron. Cook until the onions begin to caramelise and scrape off the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the lamb back into the pot. Add the chicken stock and simmer covered for 1.5 hours.

Once the lamb is almost tender add in the quince and honey, season to taste with salt & pepper and then simmer for another hour covered or until quince is tender.

Tunisian Lamb and Quince Stew

Harissa

Harissa

I had an interesting conversation in the office this week on the merits of cooking, and wanting to cook. For those who didn’t see a point in cooking, the reason came down to, it’s just food, it’s transient, we eat for energy we poop it out the other end, there’s nothing more to it. Sure it tastes good for like 10 min, but that’s about it. We have eat every day to survive but in our busy lives, cooking has become somewhat of a tedious chore. It’s an interesting train of thought, one which I don’t subscribe to but one which intrigues me nonetheless.. For me however, and I think for a lot of others, food is intrinsically tied to family…to culture…to daily habits. But I do sometimes wish I could just approach food just as an energy source, I think my waistline would thank me profusely in return.

From the casual chat to mum while she prepares dinner to the ultimate focus and concentration whilst practising my chopping skills, for me the preparation of meals is also a time for reflection, relaxation and a bit of meditation.

But you can buy the food, and still enjoy the meal which saves you the arduous task of cooking it. But in the end someone has to cook right? It means someone enjoys the merits of cooking enough to sell the produce to others, whether it’s for money, a livelihood or for the actual love of it… or until Soylent Green becomes real…

Making your own condiments, sauces and spreads is pretty much the ultimate in kitchen prep meditation. They take a shitload of time to prep and make and the end result is a jar of something you can pick up for around $3 at the supermarket. But paradoxically they’re also some of the most rewarding items to make as they form the foundations of so many other recipes. For example, this harissa recipe (another from the Weekend in Canberra at Hannahs) forms the bases for another recipe to come this week.  Luckily jars of stuff do keep for a good chunk of time in the fridge, so make it on a lazy weekend and use it during the week.

Harissa

Harissa

(from Bourke St Bakery Book, Makes around 500g)

5 red capsicums, seeded, membranes removed and finely chopped
350g brown onions, chopped finely
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small red chilli finely chopped seeds included
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
15g smoked paprika
2 teaspoons salt
100ml water

Put all the ingredients in a large heavy based saucepan. On low-medium heat, simmer for 2 hours, stirring every 10-20min making sure the sauce doesn’t stick.

You can cook the mixture for less or longer time depending on whether you want chunkish harissa or a paste (Hannah has kept it quite chunky here). You can also blitz in a food processor once cool if you want something a little smoother.

Good to keep in the fridge for at least a week.

Harissa
Harissa