Bidaoui Couscous with Seven Vegetables (Morocco)
Yield: 10 servings
2 1/4 lb meat from veal knuckle or shoulder of lamb, cut in 2" pieces
2 1/4 lb onions
1 med Savoy cabbage, cut in pieces
1 cup (2 sticks) + 2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp saffron threads
salt, to taste
1 Tbsp black pepper
2 1/4 lb couscous
4 to 5 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and quartered
1 3/4 lb eggplant, quartered
1 1/4 lb carrots, peeled, cut in 2" pieces
3/4 lb turnips, peeled and quartered
2 dried chiles
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 lb medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 1/4 lb pumpkin, peeled and cubed
In the bottom of the couscousiere or in a large pot, place the
meat, 2 lbs. of the onions (sliced), the cabbage, 1 stick plus 1
Tbsp. of the butter, saffron, salt and pepper. Cover with 5 1/2
quarts of water and bring to a boil over high heat.
Place the couscous in the steamer and set it over the steaming
broth. Seal the seam between the steamer and the pot with a thick
paste of flour and water so no steam can escape except through the
couscous. Reduce heat to medium, continue to steam for 30 minutes.
Remove from the heat. Pour the couscous into a large shallow dish,
pressing gently with a wooden spoon to break up any lumps. Allow
couscous to cool, then sprinkle it with about 1 cup of cold water,
allowing the grains to absorb as much as they will. Let the grains
rest for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with up to another cup of cold
water. At this point, the couscous can be set aside, covered,
until you are ready for the final steaming.
One hour before serving, return the meat and broth to a boil, lower
heat to medium, and add the tomatoes, eggplant, the remaining onions
(peeled and quartered), carrots, turnips, chiles and cilantro.
Simmer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate pot, cook the
potatoes and pumpkin over medium heat in a little of the broth from
the pot until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Keep warm.
After thirty minutes, taste the broth for seasoning. Return couscous
to the steamer and seal as before. Steam the couscous for 20
minutes, then remove from the heat and spread out in the large
shallow dish. Stir in the remaining butter and as much broth as
the couscous will absorb.
To serve, heap couscous in the center of a large round dish, make
a well in the center, and fill it with the meat and vegetables.
Serve remaining broth separately. Offer harissa on the side to
mix into the broth.
Note: Couscous is made most easily in a couscousiere, a special
two-part pot with a steamer on top. You can improvise your own
couscousiere using a large pot with a steamer that fits snugly into
the top: the couscous in the steamer must not touch the broth and
vegetables cooking below. Harissa, an exceedingly hot pepper sauce
sometimes served with couscous, can be found in ethnic markets or
gourmet food shops.