Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Moroccan Lamb Patties with Harissa and Pomegranate Molasses

My love affair with Moroccan cuisine started about the time I began this blog. I threw my first dinner party in California, aptly titled "Oh What A Moroccan Feast" and believe you me, it was quite a night. My guests ranged from people I had just met to friends I hadn't seen in nearly 20 years. It was an occasion, and the food wasn't too shabby either!

I am infamous for my confidence (hubris?) in the kitchen, meaning I do not do test-runs before throwing parties, usually without mishaps. But that night was my first time making homemade harissa or cooking a tajine and I was a nervous wreck. Although I already had homemade preserved lemons (the solution to an over abundant lemon tree in the back), that night was my first time making harissa and I was kind of terrified that its heat would kill everyone. I'm happy to report that we all survived, but do not let your own hubris regarding your ability to "handle the heat" kill your food. Harissa is definitely something best in small doses!

Harissa is a key ingredient in merguez lamb sausages, another signature Moroccan dish, and while I have made those before, I wanted to change it up a bit by adding some pomegranate molasses. A sweet and tangy syrup it simply helps offset the spice of the harissa. I enjoyed them immensely! 

Moroccan Lamb Patties with Harissa and Pomegranate Molasses

1 lb ground lamb
2 tablespoons harissa (make your own!)
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (see note below to make your own)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons parsley, minced

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well with your hands. Form into uniform balls and gently flatten (this batch produced 10 3" patties for me). You can fry them up immediately, or freeze them raw. To freeze, place on a parchment lined baking sheet and allow to freeze for at least 1 hour. Remove from the freezer and cut up squares to place between each patty and pack in plastic bags and freeze.

Note: If you don't have an ethnic grocer (Middle Eastern, Eastern European, or African) near by, you can make your own pomegranate molasses fairly easily. Simply combine 3 cups fresh pomegranate juice (the freshest you can find not from concentrate), add 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and cook on high heat until reduced by half. Allow to cool, and voila, zee pomegranate molasses! Store in the refrigerator tightly capped.


Recipes currently inspiring me:

Deviled Crab Meat and Chicory Salad at New York Times City Kitchen
Chunky Clam Chowder at Very Culinary
New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp at Flavors of the Sun

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