Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Lamb and Dried Fruit Kefta with Harissa White Beans

     Moroccan Spiced Lamb and Dried Fruit Meatballs!
     There are just about as many ways to spell Kefta as there are recipes for this food item.  How the word Kefta is spelled does provide a clue to which cuisine style should be focused on, based upon the regional language dialect.  Just like Kofta, the word Kefta refers to a ball shape.  In a culinary sense, Kefta refers to meatballs.  Since the word Kefta is used to describe meatballs in languages that are common in Morocco, some traditional Moroccan style cooking knowledge should be applied to making the meatballs.  This means that a complex array of spices should be used and dried fruit can also flavor the minced meat.  This combination yields an intriguingly good tasting meatball!
     Beans of any kind are commonly called Hummis in most parts of the Middle East and North Africa.  It does not matter if the beans are whole or mashed into a paste.  It does not matter is the beans are chickpeas, fava or white beans.  On the other hand, beans are also referred to by their specific names in this region too and this can put recipe translators to the test.  For example, today's recipe's alternative name could be Lamb and Dried Fruit Kefta with Hummus en Harissa.  In western world countries, this would lead to confusion, because the word Hummus refers to Bean Dip.       
     White Beans are popular throughout the Mediterranean region and North Africa.  White Beans are also called Cannellini or White Kidney Beans.  White Beans are available in most grocery stores. 
      The heavy use of Harissa Sauce is common in Tunisian cuisine.  For the sake of convenience, a pre-made Harissa Sauce product was used to make today's recipe.  The Harissa product selection at a common grocery store is limited and if a Harissa paste or sauce is available, it is usually overpriced.  The best place to find a good selection of Harissa products is at a Mediterranean food market.  Many different brands and regional styles are available and the price is a bargain.  Some Harissa products are labeled as mild or spicy.  There really is not much difference in the spicy heat range between the two label descriptions, because Harissa traditionally is mild tasting.  A Harissa Paste is as thick as tomato paste and can be thinned to a sauce consistency.  Harissa Sauce products are ready to be used as is.  
     Lamb and Dried Fruit Kefta:  
     This recipe yields enough for 5 or 6 meatballs.  (2 ounce to 2 1/2 ounce apiece)
     While the meatballs are baking, the Harissa White Beans can be made.
     Step 1:  Soak 1/4 cup of Basmati Rice in water for 1 hour.
     Rinse the rice with cold water.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of water.
     Add the soaked Basmati Rice.
     Bring the water to a boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer till the rice is a little more than halfway cooked.  (About 14 minutes.)
     Step 3:  Drain the water off of the al dente Basmati Rice with a fine mesh strainer.
     Cool the rice under cold running water.
     Drain the water off of the rice.
     Set the prepared Basmati Rice aside.
     Step 4:  Heat a sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 2 tablespoons of minced onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced celery.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced garlic.
     Gently sauté till the onions begin to caramelize.
     Set the pan of aromatic vegetables aside to cool.
     Step 5:  Place 8 ounces of ground lamb in a mixing bowl.
     Add the prepared Basmati Rice.
     Add the sautéed aromatic vegetables.
     Step 6:  Add 5 Dried Apricot Halves that are small chopped.
     Add 1/4 cup of minced Golden Raisons.
     Step 7:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of crumbled dried mint leaves.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of cumin.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric.
     Add 2 pinches of Safflower Saffron.
     Add 1 pinch of ground cardamom.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1 pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Add 2 pinches of black pepper.
     Thoroughly mix the ingredients together.
     Step 8:  Divide the mixture into equal portions that weigh about 2 ounces to 2 1/2 ounces apiece.
     Roll the meatball portions into smooth round ball shapes.
     Step 9:  Brush a baking pan with vegetable oil.
     Place the meatballs on the baking pan.
     Place the pan in a 325ºF oven.
     Roast till the meatballs are fully cooked and they are lightly browned.  (About 20 minutes.)
     *Be sure to occasionally turn the meatballs as they bake, so they cook evenly.
     Step 10:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Keep the Lamb and Dried Fruit Kefta warm on a stove top.  
     Harissa White Beans:
     This recipe yields 3 cups.  (2 portions)
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 5 pats of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1/4 cup of minced onion.
     Gently sauté till the onions just start to caramelize.
     Step 2:  Add 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth.
     Add 2/3 cup of Harissa Sauce (or 3 tablespoons of Harissa Paste).
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add 2 pinches of black pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Whisk the sauce till it is blended.
     Step 3:  Add 2 cups of rinsed cooked White Beans (or rinsed canned White Beans).
     Bring the liquid back to a simmer.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the Harissa Sauce is a medium thin consistency that can easily cling to the beans.
     Keep the Harissa White Beans warm over very low heat.
     Lamb and Dried Fruit Kefta with Harissa White Beans:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Place 1 1/2 cups of the Harissa White Beans in a shallow single portion casserole dish.
     Place 1 or 2 of the Lamb and Dried Fruit Kefta on the Harissa White Beans.  (1 kefta is a petite portion.)
     Spoon a little bit of the Harissa Sauce over the kefta.
     Place the casserole dish on a doily lined serving plate.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.

     Lamb and Dried Fruit Kefta with Harissa White Beans is as flavorful as can be!

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