Saturday, 22 August 2009

Moroccan delights : lemons, olives and turkey

One of the most wonderful combination of tastes is this Moroccan dish, which mingles the robust tastes of olives with lemon and chicken ( or turkey ).
The original recipe uses whole chicken drumsticks, I'm replacing them with diced turkey.
It is cooked in a tajine, which most people don't have. The tajine is a clay pot , which has a large conical closed top to let the heat and steam circulate and is meant for slow simmering dishes. (This is not my kitchen , I don't have a tajine)

I'm replacing it with a large heavy pot, which works just as well.
You'll need :
1 kilo of turkey breast, diced roughly in cubes of 3-5 cm
3 medium onions ( red or yellow), chopped

2 citron confit ( pickled lemons ) chopped with all the juice ( there's an explanation below on how to make it or how to use fresh lemon) with the pips removed!
(the zests are separate in this picture , that's not required :) see below)

300-350 grams of green pitted olives (mine are straight from the jar!)
2 or 3 teaspoons of turmeric powder (yellow root , we call it curcuma here ;)
2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 or 3 garlic cloves , peeled, core removed and diced in 3 or 4 bits
1 slice of ginger, diced finely or grated

1 - 2 handfuls of fresh coriander leaves, shredded by hand ( if I can't find it fresh , I don't use any,I find the taste hardly changes )
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of pepper ( 10 twists of the pepper grinder )
no salt ( the traditional recipe uses salt, but the citron confit already has a lot of that )
Large pot with lid.

Heat the oil in your favorite large pot on a medium fire.
Brown the turkey cubes lightly on all sides by stirring them in the oil for about 4-5 minutes or so.
Add the onions and stir fry for another 5 or so till the onions are glazed.The turkey tends to stick to the pot, keep stirring.
Pour the turmeric powder all over the meat and stir to get them all colored.

Put everything else in , except the olives and the coriander leaves.
Pour water in till the meat is a bit more than half covered.
Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to very low ( 2-3 electric) so it keeps slowly simmering : check regularly that it simmers : boiling dries out the meat !
Leave to simmer for half an hour to 40 minutes and add the olives and the coriander ( if you have any ).

Leave to simmer for another 15-20 minutes.
Done ! My advice : serve this robust dish with couscous (made from semolina ). ( I feel steamed rice is not the proper companion for this taste ). There's still a lot of moisture in there and the couscous absorbs those lovely juices so well.

It keeps well in the fridge (must be the lemon acids). I'll be having it on and off for the next 10 days with couscous : about 8 portions. Hmm! The SMELL ! To die for.

I use precooked couscous and add boiling water and a small dash of olive oil ( as on the package ). Add a portion of the hot dish in a deep plate , eat with a spoon. Lovely.

My selfmade citron confit. Why are the zests separate ? Because I had started to peel the zest of 4 lemons when I suddenly decided to use 2 of them for citron confit.

Citron confit can be made by cutting whole lemons lengthwise with 2 deep slices down the middle, , but not all the way down, so it doesn't fall apart. Pour a tablespoon of salt in the middle of each lemon and put them in a glass jar with a tightly fitting top. Leave the pips in, you'll remove them when you use it.
You'll need untreated lemons , not the normal kind whose skin is treated with chemicals to prevent rot.Don't wash a treated lemon with hot soapy water as a replacement , it doesn't get rid of the chemical.
Leave the jar in the room for a day and then keep it in the fridge for 2 to 4 weeks.The lemon juice will run out and the lemons will become glazed. Use both in the dish.

When I'm out of citron confit or untreated lemons , I cheat by peeling and dicing a normal lemon and leaving some of the white skin on and adding salt.

Here's a tip : if you buy garlic it usually comes in a bunch of pods. I find they dry out or start to go bad after a few weeks.
To have a fresh supply that's quick to use, peel the cloves, remove the cores and keep them in a jar with a tight lid in the deep freeze. Same for the ginger : peel and slice. Glass jars have the advantage that you can see what's inside.
Also I find the frozen ginger is very easy to dice finely.


kirin said...

Thank you for sharing the tip how to preserve garlic and ginger! I never thought of that way! How much of ginger I have wasted in my life when it went rotten in a fridge!

Yummy, yummy, yummy...:p
You such a good cook!

Walter said...

Hello,Kirin. Sorry for responding so late:)
I have been so busy in my house lately!

Yes, I also wasted lots of ginger by letting it go rotten in the fridge. And the garlic I have wasted! Also it's sooo quick to use ( it is already peeled and sliced).