Nothing surprised me more two or three years ago, than to learn from one of my “foodie” cousins in Paris, that “Alloween” (with silent "h", sic) had taken root in France. Dozens of sites initiated novices to la soirée d’Halloween, from cooking sites featuring cupcakes called “les caries de la sorcière” (the witch’s cavities) to other web pages giving step by step directions on how to carve your “citrouille” (pumpkin). Go to http://www.2travelandeat.com/France) if curiosity gets the better of you!
Meanwhile: In the Moroccan kitchen!
IN SEASON: QUINCE!
Purchasing a quince is a great way to start up a conversation at the farmer’s market. Questions range from “What is this funny looking fruit?" to "What do you make with it?”
"Membrillo (quince paste), or quince jelly!" might be the input of Hispanic and Italian cooks. In Morocco, the seasonal appearance of “sfergel” (as quince is called in local darija dialect) is cause for rejoicing. Bouchaib, the cook/caretaker at our family riad, Dar Zitoun, couldn’t wait to head for the souk to purchase the first sfergel. Our dear friend passed away a few years ago, and in his memory, I offer you the dish he used to prepare. This tagine is an adaptation from the one featured in my first cookbook, Come with me to the Kasbah: A Cook’s Tour of Morocco.
Tagine of Rabbit with Quince
Tagine de Lapin aux Coings
Sweet “pineapple” quince is the variety most commonly available in the United States. You can substitute chicken legs and thighs for the rabbit.
½ cup honey
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons turmeric
3 pounds rabbit, cut up
2 onions diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup broth or reserved quince cooking liquid
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Core (do not peel), remove seeds, and cut quinces into fairly thick wedges. Place in a bowl of acidulated water to prevent darkening. Drain.
Transfer quince to a saucepan over medium heat, and barely cover fruit with water. Add honey and cinnamon. Cook until quinces are tender. Drain, reserving liquid.
Meanwhile, in a tagine dish placed over a heat diffuser, or in a medium casserole, heat olive oil and turmeric over medium-high heat. Cook,
stirring, until spices begin to foam. Add rabbit pieces and stir to coat, 4 to 5 minutes. Add onions and garlic. Cook, stirring 2 to 3 minutes. Add broth (or quince cooking liquid) and salt. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook until rabbit is tender, 50 to 55 minutes.
With a slotted spoon transfer rabbit to a serving dish and keep warm. Transfer cooked quince to pan, and bring sauce to a simmer on top of the stove. It
should be quite sweet. Add honey, if desired. Season with pepper. Cook until sauce thickens, 6 to 8 minutes.
To serve, mound rabbit on a platter, and top with the sauce and wedges of quince (the photo above shows how carefully Bouchaib used to “carve” the
fruit!) Serve with crusty bread.
Join me for the webchats (see my previous post), if you can!
JOYEUSE FETE D'(H)alloween!