By Craig Valency, CSCS
Well, Wifey is pregnant and in no mood for slaving over a hot stove, so her loving, half Moroccan husband decided to make an original creation based on basic Moroccan flavors and whatever was in the fridge. And it was good! Happy wife, happy life!
Servings: 4 (big eaters like Craig, Christa, and our cave child) to 6 (normal people)
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 lb. ground lamb
- 12 Romaine lettuce hearts
- 3 carrots, thinly sliced
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 6 celery stocks (with leaves), thinly sliced
- 12 dried apricots, diced (split in 2 portions)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- juice of half a lemon
- kosher salt, to taste
- ground pepper, to taste
- 1 tbsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. dried onion flakes
- 1 tsp. cardamom
- 1 tsp. coriander
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- 1 tsp. ginger
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1/4 tsp. fennel seeds
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a dutch oven over medium heat. Do not let the pan smoke. Add a tablespoon of the spice mix as well as some salt and pepper. Stir into the oil to make a paste. Next, add the carrots, onions, and celery. Cook them down for about 10 minutes. Add half the diced dried apricots and another tablespoon of the spice mix, stir and cook for about 5 more minutes. Add salt and pepper as needed. Move everything from the dutch oven to an extra skillet or a large bowl.
Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the dutch oven. Stir in a tablespoon of the spice mixture and the other half of diced dried apricots.
Add the ground lamb and beef mixture breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Add the remainder of the spice mix. When the meat is browned, add the vegetable mixture back in and stir. Add the juice of a half lemon. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Once you overdo turmeric or cardamom, there is no turning back –so adjust cautiously!
- The apricots can make it pretty sweet, so add more cayenne, hot sauce, or any form of heat you’d like to balance it out. Of course for the real Moroccans out there, Harisa would be ideal.
- Serve the lettuce on the side so it stays crispy and doesn’t get hot and soggy.
- Taste at every step along the way so you can get the spice mix just right. Once it is already cooked, the aromatics don’t release as well as when you add the spices to the hot oil earlier in the cooking process.