Monday, November 14, 2011

Merguez Lamb Patties with poached Quince and Roasted Kale

I was at Whole Foods on Blithedale today getting some spices I needed to make the Harissa (a traditional North African condiment)  for the lamb patties and I passed some Quince.  Not organic but from California I bought them without the intention of using them tonight but with the song my daughter learned in her first year of Primary at Marin Montessori School:

ma ma ma ma I want a mango,
pa pa pa pa please papaya,
no no na na alright banana,
kiwi kiwi kiwi kiwi quince!

I realized I didn't know much about the fruit but she loved to say that last line over and over again so I couldn't help myself. I expect to see them in the coming weeks at the Farmer's market.  Quince, in general, are somewhat tough, but tart.  All the recipes I looked up had lots of sugar in their preparation and that just doesn't fly, so I poached them in 2 cups water and juice from half a lemon for about 20 min. until soft and they came out great.  They developed a hint of honey flavor to them and complemented the lamb greatly--think upscale apple chutney.  If you absolutely have to, go ahead and add a TBSP. coconut sugar or Rapadura to the water and lemon juice.

The original Merguez recipe I took off of Epicurious, but I didn't want to do the couscous with raisins so instead used the poached quince as a topping and served it with butter lettuce leaves to wrap it in.  Steve said he could have eaten two more patties so maybe up the recipe if you have a hungry meat eater in residence.  Roasted kale was a great crispy accompaniment to the meal.  You can make your own Harissa or go pick it up at the store...
Merguez Lamb Patties:
1 1/4 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 1/4 pounds ground lamb (got mine from Marin Sun Farms)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons harissa
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/4 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon sunflower oil

Toast fennel seeds in a small heavy skillet over medium heat until fragrant and a shade darker, about 1 minute. Grind to a fine powder in grinder.
Mix together lamb, garlic, harissa, spices (including fennel), and 1/2 teaspoon salt thoroughly with your hands (do not overmix). Form into 4 oval patties (about 3/4 inch thick).
Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then cook patties, turning once, about 9 minutes total for medium-rare.

Roasted Kale:
Preheat oven to 350.  Wash and rinse one bunch kale--I used Red Russian Kale from Tomatero FarmThe curlier kind seem to crisp up better.  Cut the stems off and chop the bunch in half horizontally once and remove some of the thicker ribs by folding the leaf at the rib and then "unzipping" it.  You want the leaf pieces to be good-sized.  Dry the kale as much as possible.

Toss the kale with olive oil, trying to evenly coat all the leaves.  Tonight I used Meyer lemon infused olive oil from O Olive Oil, but you can use regular olive oil and squeeze a little lemon juice over everything.  Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt.  I use Maldon Sea Salt or Esprit du Sel. Roast for 10 min. then turn over the leaves and roast for another 5min.  I had to do mine in 2 batches.

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