Sunday, January 08, 2006

mysterious yellow

Unlike the young and raw lemon, I think of their preserved sister as a mature and experienced hostess presiding over an eclectic party of guests. They work with subtlety and wisdom to harness overly-loud flavors, reconcile disparate tastes to exuberant yet harmonious effect.

The best way to see them in action, I think, is to use preserved lemons in North African tagines, which typically juxtaposes a number of sweet, salty, spicy and savoury elements. Yesterday, for example, I made a variation involving chunks of lamb shoulder and butternut squash. The preserved lemon added towards the end of the long simmer mitigated the meat's richness and pungency while brightening and intensifying the butternut flavor, doing away with any aspect of "squashiness." As an experiment I tried pureeing the soup. It was simply the most delicious veloute I've ever tasted, smooth yet vibrant. I could not detect even a hint of the lemons' original acidity; rather they were exerting their mysterious powers from within.

Lamb stew with butternut squash and preserved lemons

-1.5 pounds of lamb shoulder, cut into cubes
-2 tablespoons of olive oil
-2 tablespoons of Harissa sauce (see note)
-1 onion, chopped
-2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
-1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
-1 cup chickpeas
-1/2 preserved lemon, rind and pulp finely diced, plus pulp from additional lemon
-1/4 cup golden raisins (optional)
-chopped mint for garnish

Heat olive oil over medium heat and brown the lamb. Add onions and cook until soft, then add Harissa sauce. Add 2 cups of water and simmer, covered, until meat is tender, about 45 minutes. Add tomatoe, butternut, chickpea. Add water to cover and simmer, uncovered, until squash is tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in preserved lemon plus golden raisins and continue cooking until soup is thickened. Remove from heat and garnish with mint.
Note: The garish yellow tubes of Harissa sauce were available in any French supermarket but since I could not find any in California, I substituted with pinches of ground coriandre and cumin.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great site loved it alot, will come back and visit again.

9:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What may you tell me about the Cinderella pumpkin pie. I glanced at it very quickly, and I will print it. I can picture a flat pumpkin vegetable to use rather than a canned puree; correct.

I found your site via surfing the web to look for blogs on William-Sonoma's "Willie" turkey. I am debating whether to try it at approximately $ 5.00/lb. It is delivered. I am debating because there are stores such as Whole Foods, Balducci's (formerly Sutton Place), Dean and DeLucca, Italian grocery stores. And I have done that/been there kind of mindset. Do I want to really try something gourmet and probably not matching own spices. But I guess that is the joy of trying. Maybe I should do so on a non-holiday day!! In other words, there is a 50/50 chance that we will like it as we are partial to our cooking. It seems to me that when I try other spices even at the stores mentioned above, I am not that impressed. I suppose if one wants different, then go for it. I answered my own question. Anyway, try finding the William-Sonoma site to research the Willie turkey. Maybe I will call them and ask an rep about it.
WIshing you great holidays.
SF/Washington, DC Metropolitan Area

9:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May you post your response on your site for previous comment?

9:17 AM  

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