Top | Toro Bravo

Harira

(recipe, Liz Crain & John Gorham)


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Introduction

When I was working at Café Zenon, Bill Hatch was really into Moroccan food, and cooking a lot from Paula Wolfert’s cookbook Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco. Harira — a traditional Berber soup usually made with lentils, chickpeas, and a bit of meat — was one of his favorite dishes. At Zenon, we served the harira with rice, which I always thought was kind of a cop-out, a boring filler. At Toro, we serve it with house-made flatbread and a really nice buttermilk cheese. You can just throw some store-bought sour cream on it and it’ll be delicious, but garnishing our harira with buttermilk cheese takes it to another level.

Ingredients

  1. ¼ cup olive oil
  2. 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  3. 2 Tbsp. parsley leaves, chopped
  4. 2 Tbsp. cilantro leaves, chopped
  5. 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
  6. ½ Tbsp. turmeric
  7. 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  8. 1 tsp. paprika
  9. 1 pinch saffron
  10. 1 onion, diced
  11. 1 lb. ground lamb shoulder
  12. 2 qt. chicken stock
  13. 2 cups cooked or one 15-ounce can chickpeas (if canned, rinse and drain)
  14. 2 cups dried brown lentils
  15. 1 lemon, juiced
  16. ¼ preserved lemon, skin finely chopped
  17. Salt

Steps

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, sauté the shallots, parsley, and cilantro in olive oil until the shallots are clear and fragrant.
  2. Add the ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, paprika, and saffron, and cook for one minute, allowing the spices to bloom.
  3. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the onions and lamb. Cook until the onions are translucent and the lamb is cooked through, 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken stock, chickpeas, and lentils to the pot, and bring to a simmer. Cook this for about an hour, or until the lentils are soft, making sure to stir periodically so that the lentils don’t stick to the pot.
  5. Once the harira is finished cooking, stir in the lemon juice and preserved lemon. Taste and adjust the salt. (This stew — like most stews — is way better on day two. Plan accordingly.) To serve, top each bowl with a dollop of sour cream or buttermilk cheese \[instructions below\].

Note

I never use canned beans, because they aren’t nearly as good as reconstituted dried ones. To make buttermilk cheese: Set your oven to the lowest temperature it will go (usually 180 degrees). In a nonreactive saucepan, heat 1 pint buttermilk and a pinch of salt to 180 degrees. Move the saucepan to the oven and leave it alone for 10 hours, until separated. Using cheesecloth, strain the solids from the whey and discard the whey. Let the cheese continue to strain for 45 minutes in your refrigerator. The stuff you capture is buttermilk cheese.


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