Thursday, January 9, 2014

Back to Jerusalem

Yesterday was a bitterly cold day, with winds and biting air reminiscent of winter in Edmonton. Started the day with some leftover polenta and eggs. Lunch was a green salad with beets, stilton cheese and the nutty vinaigrette from the last post. Got some bad news regarding a job I was interested in, which drove me into the arms of a Tim Horton’s doughnut that someone had brought into the office. It didn’t help. 

For dinner, I defrosted a lump of mystery ground meat (likely a mix of beef and veal, a byproduct of a long ago Bolognese sauce) and put together a version of Yotam Ottolenghi’s braised eggs with lamb, tahini, and sumac, deviating from the recipe in the choice of meat and the method for the eggs (I poached mine separately). I also stirred in some spinach for a little greenery. This version wasn’t as good as the original, which is one of my favourites so far from “Jerusalem.” If you haven't picked up "Jerusalem" or its vegetable-centric cousin "Plenty," I would highly recommend doing so.

Braised Eggs with Lamb, Tahini, & Sumac
Serves 4
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped (1 1/4 cups total)
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
300 g ground lamb
2 teaspoons sumac, plus extra to garnish
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Scant 1/2 cup toasted, unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
7 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
2 teaspoons harissa paste
1 tablespoon finely chopped preserved lemon peel
1 1/3 cups (about 1 pint) cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken stock
4 large free-range eggs
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Yogurt Sauce
Scant 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini paste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon water

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium, heavy-bottomed frying pan for which you have a tight-fitting lid. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 6 minutes to soften and color a bit. Raise the heat to high, add the lamb, and brown well, 5 to 6 minutes. Season with the sumac, cumin, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and some black pepper and cook for another minute. Turn off the heat, stir in the nuts, harissa, and preserved lemon and set aside.

While the onion is cooking, heat a separate small cast-iron or other heavy pan over high heat. Once piping hot, add the cherry tomatoes and char for 4 to 6 minutes, tossing them in the pan occasionally, until slightly blackened on the outside. Set aside.

Prepare the yogurt sauce by whisking together all the ingredients with a pinch of salt. It needs to be thick and rich, but you may need to add a splash of water if it is stiff.

You can leave the meat, tomatoes, and sauce at this stage for up to an hour. When you are ready to serve, reheat the meat, add the chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Make 4 small wells in the mix and break an egg into each well. Cover the pan and cook the eggs over low heat for 3 minutes. Place the tomatoes on top, avoiding the yolks, cover again, and cook for 5 minutes, until the egg whites are cooked but the yolks are still runny.

Remove from the heat and dot with dollops of the yogurt sauce, sprinkle with sumac, and finish with the cilantro. Serve at once.

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