Tag Archives: lamb

Recipe: Bolivian Soup with Wheat Berries (Sopa de Trigo)

29 Jan

There are probably as many versions of this soup as there are Bolivian families, and all of them likely to be delicious, but this is the version that has evolved at our house over the years. I love the bright-red color that comes from the tomato and chili pastes; it brightens even the coldest, most dreary day. I also love the soup’s many layers of flavor, each one contributing to the overall symphony. It’s even better the next day, so it’s a great make-ahead dish. And it’s very adaptable: make a vegetarian version by eliminating the beef/lamb, adding more veggies, and using vegetable broth/bouillon. Or substitute quinoa for the wheat if gluten is an issue.

dsc_0370-1

Bolivian Soup with Wheat Berries (Sopa de Trigo)

Wheat/Hominy:
1/3-1/2 c. dry wheat berries/trigo pelado
1 can (14 0z./400 gr.) cooked hominy/mote blanco, undrained
–OR 1/2 c. dried cracked hominy (maiz blanco trillado)–see photo below

½ c. freeze-dried potato/black chuño (optional)

Soup broth:
12 c./3 liters beef broth
1 lb./500 gr. meaty, bone-in beef or lamb
1 large onion, halved
1 large tomato, quartered
2 carrots, peeled and halved
2 bay leaves
beef bouillon cubes (optional)

Soup Vegetables:
3/4 c. petite peas
2 large carrots, julienned
3 large potatoes, julienned (it’s traditional to julienne both the carrots and the potatoes, but I have been know to dice both instead…)

Sofrito:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 lg. onion, finely diced
1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1-2 tbsp. red aji (chili) paste (aji colorado/aji panca)–see photo below
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. dried oregano
coarsely ground black pepper, to taste

Toppings:
2 green onions, finely sliced
1 tsbp. finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh oregano
1 tbsp. finely chopped  fresh mint

1-fullsizerender-14
Dried cracked hominy

1-fullsizerender-13
Red aji (chili) paste

Preparation:

  1. Note: If using  the optional freeze-dried potato/chuño, soak it in warm water overnight prior to making the soup. Before adding it to the soup in step #5, drain it and squeeze as much water out as possible. If necessary, chop into small pieces.
  2. Place the wheat berries (and, if using, the dried hominy) in a medium saucepan, cover with several inches of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 60-90 minutes or until both wheat and hominy are soft. Drain and set aside. If using canned hominy, pre-cook only the wheat, and add the undrained canned hominy to the soup in step #5.
  3. Meanwhile, add the broth and meat/bones to a large pot and bring to a low simmer, skimming periodically until no more foam is produced. Add the halved onion, quartered tomato, halved carrots, and the bay leaves and continue simmering slowly until the vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes. Check the seasonings and add beef bouillon cubes to taste, if needed.
  4. Remove the beef/lamb to a dish and let cool. Strain the broth through a fine-meshed sieve into a large bowl, mashing the tomato pieces to extract any remaining liquid. Return the broth to the pot and discard the vegetables.
  5. Shred the meat, discarding the bones and any fat, and add the shredded meat to the pot along with 1 c. of the cooked wheat, the hominy, the freeze-dried potato/chuño (if using), and the peas, carrots, and potatoes. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the sofrito: Heat the olive oil  in a skillet over medium-high heat, add the onion, and cook until soft and slightly golden. Add the remaining ingredients to the skillet and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, to make a fragrant paste. Add the paste to the soup pot, stir to mix, and continue simmering the soup, covered, for 15 minutes or more to develop the flavors and ensure all vegetables are soft. If the soup seems too thick, add more water. If it needs more salt, add another bouillon cube.
  7. Serve with the sliced green onions and herbs sprinkled on top, and with plenty of crusty bread.

Recipe: Easy Lahm bi Ajin (Lebanese Lamb Pizza)

5 Oct

In Arabic, lahm means “meat,” and ajin means dough or pastry. Many cultures pair meat with pastry, and while I like just about every iteration of that theme, this Lebanese version is one of my favorites. This recipe is slightly easier and quicker to make than some traditional versions because it uses a pita-bread base instead of one requiring home-made dough. These Lahm bi Ajin are pretty hearty, and go quite nicely with Tabouli or other salads.

lahm bi Ajin3
Lahm bi Ajin
Serves 4

1 lb. ground lamb
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. chilli flakes
1/3 c. tomato paste
1 tbsp. pomegranate molasses, or juice of 1/2 a small lemon
1/4 c. yogurt
salt and pepper to taste

1/4 c. pine nuts (optional)
extra 2 tbsp. olive oil
4 medium-sized pitas, unopened
1 tbsp ea. fresh mint and parsley, or 1/2 tsp. dried mint and dried parsley

Preparation
1. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and cook the lamb until it is no longer pink, breaking it up as finely as possible. Remove the lamb from the pan, drain in a colander, and set aside.
2. Wipe the skillet, add the 3 tbsp. of olive oil, and when hot, add the onion and cook until translucent and slightly golden.
3. Add the garlic and spices, and cook for a few more minutes. Return the lamb to the pan along with the tomato paste and the pomegranate molasses/lemon juice; mix well to combine. Cook the lamb mixture for 5 minutes over low heat, mashing periodically with the back of a wooden spoon.
4. Turn off the heat, and add the yogurt to the lamb mixture in two batches, incorporating well after each batch. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set the lamb mixture aside.
5. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Take out one large (or two medium) rimmed baking sheets–to accommodate the four pitas.
6. Toast the pine nuts in a small skillet until they start to turn golden; remove from skillet.
7. To assemble: pour the extra 2 tbsp. olive oil into a very small bowl; brush the top of each unopened pita with the olive oil. Place the pitas on the baking sheet(s).
8. Divide the lamb mixture among the four pitas, patting it down and spreading it to the edge of each pita. Sprinkle each pita with the mint, parsley, and pine nuts, pressing the pine nuts into the lamb mixture. Drizzle the pitas with any remaining olive oil from the small bowl.
9. Bake in the oven until the edges of the pitas start to get crisp and the lamb topping begins to brown, about 15 minutes.
10. Eat immediately.

Recipe: Roast Leg of Lamb with Red Wine and Herbs

17 Apr

On the Thursday before Easter, we always have a leg of lamb as part of our evening meal, a tradition that started before my husband and I were married–when we were young and foolish. We bought our first leg of lamb on impulse at a butcher shop in Greenwich Village, New York, on the Wednesday before Easter (we happened to be visiting NYC). We sprinkled some herbs over it, doused it with a bottle of wine, wrapped it up, refrigerated it overnight, and then drove it to Washington, DC the next day in time to roast it for dinner. It was a slightly boozy, but very delicious lamb we ate that evening; the excess alcohol probably helped preserve it, unrefrigerated, during the 4-hour trip.

Though we have very fond memories of that lamb, I have since refined the recipe, ensuring proper food-safety techniques and (unfortunately) eliminating the need for any road trips.

Lamb6

Roast Leg of Lamb with Red Wine and Herbs
Serves 6-8
Note: This lamb needs to marinate overnight (or for at least 8 hours) prior to roasting.

1 bone-in leg of lamb (6-8 lb.)
salt and pepper
4-5 cloves garlic, cut into slivers
fresh rosemary, separated into small sprigs

Marinade:
1/3 c. olive oil
1/4 c. red wine of your preference
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. each dried basil, oregano, parsley, mint, etc.
1/2 tsp. sugar

Preparation

1. Rinse lamb and pat dry. Then, using a sharp knife, cut off  as much of the top, papery thin layer (the “fell”) as possible; it is not necessary to remove all of it. (Some cooks prefer to leave it on to help keep the lamb moist. Others remove it because they think it has a strong flavor. I remove it for aesthetic reasons; family members don’t like seeing the fell on the lamb.)
2. Trim off  excess fat, but make sure to leave a nice layer to ensure moistness and to help carry the flavor of the rosemary, garlic, and marinade.
3. Using the same sharp knife, make deep slits into the meaty portions of the leg.

L1
4. Insert one sliver of garlic and a small sprig of rosemary into each slit in the lamb. Sprinkle lamb with salt and freshly ground pepper.

L2
5. In a bowl, combine marinade ingredients.
6. Place lamb in 2-3 layers of clean, plastic grocery bags (or other large sealable bags) on a rimmed baking sheet large enough to hold the lamb. Holding the bags open, pour the marinade over the lamb, taking care to pour some of the marinade into each of the slits filled with garlic and rosemary.

Lamb
7.  Tie the plastic bags together tightly so that the marinade cannot leak out, then place the lamb (still on the baking sheet) in the refrigerator overnight (or for at least 8 hours). If you are so inclined, feel free to massage the marinade into the lamb every so often.

Lamb2
8. In the morning (or after about 4 hours), turn the lamb over so that the other side of the lamb can soak up some of the marinade.
9. Preheat oven to 450 °F. Remove the lamb from the bags (reserving the marinade), pat dry, sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper, then place the  lamb on a rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet or pan. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the lamb, but not near the bone. Cook lamb at 450°F for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 °F. Roast lamb until meat thermometer reaches between 145 °F (medium rare) and 160 °F (medium), basting periodically with leftover marinade. For a 6 lb. leg of lamb, total cooking time should be about 2 hours, depending on preferred degree of doneness.
10. Remove lamb from oven, then let rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.

Lamb7

 

Recipe: Stuffed Grape Leaves

13 Feb

I would be hard pressed to come up with a last meal. I like so many foods, that I’d want something more along the lines of a smorgasbord. But one dish that would certainly be part of that smorgasbord would be stuffed grape leaves — the warm, simple, and oh so heavenly Lebanese version made with a lemony lamb and rice filling. In my very biased view, the versions of stuffed grape leaves that are meant to be eaten cold (usually meatless) cannot compare with their fragrant, hot-out-of the pot counterparts.

For a sublime gastronomic experience, dip these grape leaves in plain yogurt. The cool, smooth tanginess complements them perfectly. See photos below for step-by-step instructions on how to fill and roll grape leaves.

Stuffed Grape Leaves

1 (15-oz. ) jar grape leaves in vinegar brine
1 lb. ground lamb
1 c. white rice, such as jasmine
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. allspice
1 tbsp. salt
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice

Preparation

1. Open the jar of grape leaves, pour out the brine, and carefully ease the grape leaves out of the jar. (They will be tightly packed, in rolls.)
2. Put the grape leaves in warm water and let soak while making the filling.
3. For filling, combine lamb, rice, cinnamon, and allspice in a medium bowl, and mix well. Set aside.
4. Gently swish grape leaves around in the warm water, and slowly begin to separate as many as possible, taking care to not tear them. When most have come out of their rolls, drain the water.
5. Line the bottom of a medium saucepan with a layer of grape leaves (this is a good way to use any that are torn or too small).
6. Select a grape leaf and shake to remove any excess water that may be clinging to it. Place it on a cutting board glossy side down (veiny side up).  If there is a bit of stem still attached, cut it off (see photo below).

7. Take a bit of filling and shape into a small roll; lay horizontally across grape leaf, just above where the stem was.

8. Fold the bottom part of the grape leaf over the filling.

8. Tuck in each side, as if making a burrito.

9. Continue to roll the grape leaf, folding in the sides as you go.

10. Place the rolled grape leaf seam side down in the sauce pan, tucking tightly against the side of pan.

11. Repeat the process until you have run out of filling. Depending on the size of the saucepan, you should have about two layers of rolled grape leaves. Be sure to tuck them in tightly; you do not want them to unroll while cooking.
12. Sprinkle the 1 tbsp. salt on top of the grape leaves. Add enough water to the pan to just cover the grape leaves. Place an inverted heat-proof ceramic plate on top of the grape leaves (you can also use the lid of a smaller saucepan–you will need something that fits inside the main saucepan and can lay on top of the grape leaves to keep them from shifting while cooking). Cover the saucepan with a tight-fitting lid.
13.  Cook, covered, over medium heat for 15 minutes. Lift the lid, and pour in the lemon juice (you can pour it around the sides of the plate; it will seep underneath). Replace the lid, reduce heat to low/simmer, and cook for 15 more minutes, checking periodically to make sure the water has not completely dried up. Ideally, the water will be absorbed by the end of the cooking period, but you don’t want to run the risk of burning the grape leaves.
14. After 15 minutes, gently pour out any water that might remain, holding the grape leaves in place with the plate (or small lid).
15. Invert the sauce pan onto a serving platter, discard the grape leaves that lined the pan, and serve the stuffed grape leaves immediately, with plain yogurt as an accompaniment.

Adapted from Lebanese Cuisine, by Madelain Farah.

Recipe: Lamb Kafta Kabobs

8 Sep

In the United States, we tend to use cinnamon mostly in sweet dishes. But in other parts of the world, cinnamon has long been used in savory dishes, too, where it adds an extra layer of flavor and warmth. It is an ancient aromatic spice that was worth more than gold and was considered an appropriate gift for royalty.

These lamb kafta kabobs, which feature the traditional Lebanese flavor combination of cinnamon and allspice,  will make anyone who eats them feel like royalty, too. At our house, we put them in pita bread with hummus (and/or plain yogurt mixed with diced cucumber, garlic, and mint) and lettuce and tomatoes.  I usually make Tabouli as an accompaniment, and some of  us also add that to our pitas for a full flavor experience.

The traditional method of preparation involves shaping the kabobs around a skewer, but it is far easier (and faster) to make them without the skewer. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 30 minutes before assembling the kabobs.

Lamb Kafta Kabobs
Serves 4

1 lb. ground lamb (can use half lean ground beef if preferable)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 c. finely chopped parsley
3/4-1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. allspice

Preparation
1. Mix all ingredients well.
2. Take a small handful of the meat mixture and mold into a roughly 4 ” cylindrical shape around a skewer, or just mold into cylindrical shape without the skewer.
3. Grill and enjoy.

Source: Lebanese Cuisine by Madelain Farah