Monday, January 14, 2013

Makloubeh (Upside-down Meat Pie)

This one has a lot of steps, takes over 2 hours, and uses more pans than I was expecting.  None of it is really that difficult, but only this blog made me attempt the recipe out of Rose Dosti's book.  What it comes down to is that you can't go wrong with lamb stewed in cumin and cinnamon.  It smells wonderful and tastes yummy.  I also loved the fried eggplant layer, and will probably do fried eggplant slices as a side dish at some point.  I found myself wishing I had dipped them in tempura batter.  But that's a different recipe altogether.

I'm going to try to simplify the instructions and help you to find ways to lessen the number of pans and bowls.  The recipe itself does not appear to have a fault, except it took me longer to get the rice steamed at the end than the 30 minutes suggested.  I think it was because the lid didn't fit on the frying pan that well.

And if you don't have rosewater at home, don't stress it.  I didn't have that or the cardamom, and it was still complex and flavorful.  The saffron is nice because it gives the rice a little depth, but I understand that most casual cooks don't have it in the pantry.

2 Tb olive oil
1 large or 2 small onions, chopped
*1 clove garlic, minced
*1/4 C slivered almonds or pine nuts
1-1/2 lbs lamb stew meat
*1/4 tsp ground cumin
*1/8 tsp ground allspice
*pinch of cinnamon
*pinch of cloves
pinch of cardamom
salt & pepper to taste
1-1/2 C beef broth (or water)
1 small eggplant, unpeeled, cut lengthwise into 1/4" slices (get out the mandoline)
vegetable or peanut oil for frying
1 C rice
boiling water
1/4 tsp saffron threads soaked in 1/4 C warm water
dash of rosewater

1.  Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan.  Add onions, garlic, and nuts.  Sauté until onions are tender.  Add meat and cook until browned.  Add cumin, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, salt, and pepper.  Add broth.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat; cover and simmer until tender, about 1 hour.

2.  As the end of the hour approaches. Slice the eggplant and sprinkle slices with salt to draw out the excess water and bitterness.  In a 10" skillet, heat 1/4" of vegetable oil for frying.  Pat dry the eggplant slices and fry in the oil, turning once, until a golden brown color.  Drain on paper towels.

3.  Place rice in a bowl.  Pour in boiling water to cover and let stand 5 minutes, then drain.  Strain saffron strands out of their water, season with the rosewater, and add the liquid to the rice.  Toss to coat.

4.  Drain off the oil from the eggplant skillet until there are only traces left.  Then drain off and keep the liquid from the lamb.  Place the lamb at the bottom of the skillet.  Layer the eggplant slices over the lamb.  Spread the rice over that, all the way to the edges of the skillet.  (In some photos I found, the eggplant went in the pan first.  You can create tart-like patterns with it that way.)  Pour 1-1/2 C of the reserved liquid from the stew over the rice slowly, so it doesn't displace the rice.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes, until rice is done and most of the liquid is absorbed.

5.  Loosen the rice from the edges of the skillet with a spatula.  Get a serving platter that is at least an inch larger than the skillet.  Place it upside-down over the skillet, then flip everything over and hope for the best.  Serve immediately.
Upside-Down in pan
Flipped for Serving

Serves about 6

Difficulty rating :-0

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