Lamb X 2, Part 2: Couscous
Many years ago, when Steve and I went on our first trip to Paris, we were advised by our budget travel book to eat couscous as a way to save money on meals. Of course, today in Paris and elsewhere, there are countless budget choices from practically every corner of the world. But then, couscous was one of the few options – and it was always delicious!
In France, couscous refers not only to the couscous itself, but also to the savory stew served over it, redolent of fragrant spices. It was completely exotic to us as transplants from Hawaii, newly living in New York City, and visiting Paris for the first time.
When I roasted a leg of lamb last week, I planned for lamb couscous to be the second act for the leftovers, since a whole leg of lamb is more than we can consume at one sitting. If you've hesitated to buy a leg of lamb for that reason, here's an easy and scrumptious way to recycle the leftovers.
You can also make this recipe using cubes of uncooked lamb. Just simmer the stew about a half hour longer.
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups lamb cubes (1 ¼ -inch squares)
3/4 cup chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon saffron
5 cups boiling water
6 carrots, cut crosswise in halves or thirds
1 can (15.5 ounces) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup raisins
Harissa or other hot sauce
In a large pot, combine oil, lamb, parsley, onion, pepper, cinnamon, saffron and 2 teaspoons salt. Heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring. Add boiling water, bring stew to a simmer, cover and simmer for 1 hour, until lamb is tender. Add carrots and cook 10 to 15 minutes more, until carrots are almost cooked through. Add garbanzo beans and raisins and cook another 10 minutes. Taste and add more salt, if needed. (At this point, I usually need about another teaspoon of salt.)
While the chickpeas and raisins are simmering, make the couscous following package directions.
To serve, in rimmed soup plates or in soup bowls, make a bed of couscous and ladle the lamb stew over it. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with harissa. Makes 6 servings.
This recipe was adapted from a cookbook I’ve treasured for decades, The Moroccan Cookbook by Irene F. Day.
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