Sunday, February 16, 2014

originals - the lazy Moroccan shepherd's pie

Ever more often I find myself creating my own recipes, and not working on someone else's. This makes me very happy, as does every sign that I'm capable of more than just recreating things. This is one of those recipes.

The backstory on this one only proves that laziness is the mother of invention. I had some minced lamb, didn't feel like going through all the fuss of making koŇāduny (especially since I had them a week before) and most definitely - was not ready to buy, peel and mash potatoes to make a shepherd's pie. But the general idea of shepherd's pie didn't seem so stupid. Why not substitute the potatoes with something faster to make? At that point, why not make it all taste better?

  • 600g minced lamb
  • 100g dates
  • one big pear
  • some chilli finely chopped peppers (I leave the amount and the matter of the seeds to your preference)
  • 300 ml red wine (something heavier, a shiraz perhaps)
  • 200 mg cous-cous
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • few cardamom pods
  • salt, pepper
As usually, start with pouring yourself a glass of wine and some more, about 150ml to another small glass. While enjoying the wine you've chosen, chop the dates and throw them into the other wine filled glass to soak for a while. The dates will expand a bit, get more moist, and the wine will become sweeter. 

In a bowl season the minced lamb generously (mostly with pepper, but also with salt) and mix it well with your hands. Minced lamb has the tendency to clump and never fall apart, and then the flavours don't get through well. 

Heat some olive oil in a tagine pot - if you don't have one, just take a heavy, oven proof skillet that you can cover - it's pretty important for this recipe not to let too much fluids evaporate. On mid heat, start cooking the meat, adding the chopped chilli, cinnamon and cardamom. Meanwhile peel and dice the pear. Add it to the meat together with the dates and the wine they soaked in. Stir everything well, try to break apart any bigger lumps of lamb, cover and let simmer for some time.

Heat the oven to about 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Get yourself another glass of wine and prepare the cous-cous. Put it in a bowl and add to it the juices from the lamb. Then, add the remaining wine and some boiling water - about half of the amount mentioned in the instructions on the packaging. Cover it and let it "cook".

Now, the semi, pseudo "shepherd's pie" part. Distribute the lamb evenly in the skillet and cover it with an even layer of cous-cous. Put it in the oven and cook (uncovered) until the top is golden-brown. It depends on the oven and many other factors, but, let's say, start checking in on it after about 15 minutes. The top should be a bit crunchy and so should some bits of the lamb at the bottom and the sides.

If you still have some wine left, totally serve it with it. If not - shame on you for not buying more. Anyway, I liked it a lot and was told it's seriously good. Hope you think so too, enjoy.