Ras al Hanout literally means "Top of the Shelf" since it traditionally contains among the most expensive and hard to get spices in the world such as culeb peppers, saffron, grains of paradise and orris root among others. Each region of Morocco has its own version of this aromatic and flavorful spice blend. I use it as a rub for grilled lamb or on a flatbread type of cracker. I especially love it in my recipe for Lamb Tagine. If you don't like lamb, you can substitute chicken with no problem. I hope you enjoy my version of this exotic and delicious spice mixture.
By Mark Sanne
4-5 lbs of lamb leg or shoulder cut into about 1” cubes and trimmed of excess fat
3T olive oil
3 large onions, thinly sliced
5 cloves of garlic chopped
4 large carrots peeled, and sliced on the diagonal into ¼” thick slices
2 preserved lemons, pulp removed and rind coarsely chopped
2/3C finely chopped parley plus more for garnish
2-3T “Global Palate” Ras al Hanout spice mixture
3T fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
Black pepper and salt to taste
3C chicken stock or water
3T fresh lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
In a large heavy pot, heat the olive oil until it is almost smoking then add the lamb, browning well. You will have to do this in batches as it will be too much to brown at once. Do not overcrowd the pan as the meat will not brown properly. Place browned meat aside and continue until all is cooked and reserve. Add a bit more olive if the pan is dry and then add the onions and garlic, stirring well and cook until they are a nice golden brown color. Add the carrots, preserved lemon rind, salt parsley, ginger, and ras al hanout and stir to mix, add the reserved browned lamb and continue to stir to coat the meat with the spices.
Add the lemon juice and the stock or water until the meat is almost covered. Stir again to mix and bring to a boil. Cover and place in the oven for about 1-2 hrs depending on the cut of lamb. Taste a piece after 1 hr to check doneness. The meat should be very tender but not falling apart. Adjust seasonings and garnish with some more parsley or cilantro and serve with basmati rice or cous cous.
This is even better if made a day or two in advance and allowed to sit in the refrigerator as the flavors will develop. Reheat in the oven for about 30-40 min. or until bubbling. Freezes well.
Moroccan Chicken w/ Olives and Lemons
adapted from Paula Wolfert’s “Cous Cous and Other Good Food from Morocco”
2 whole chickens cut into eighths
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
1T Global Palate Ras al Hanout
2-1/2C grated onion, drained
1/2C chopped fresh coriander mixed with 1/2C chopped fresh parsley
1-1/2C cracked green olives
2 preserved lemons
2-3 fresh lemons
Earlier in the day, thinly slice 4 cloves of garlic and add 1T of salt, the Ras al Hanout and half of the oil to the chicken and mix. Toss to mix well and let marinate covered in the refrigerator for at least 4 hrs.
Place the chicken into a large casserole along with the marinade. Add 1/2C of the grated onions, the herbs and 2C of water. Bring to a boil and cover and lower the heat and simmer for 30 min. turning the chicken occasionally in the sauce.
While the chicken is cooking, rinse and pit the olives, if they seem very bitter blanch them in boiling water a few times then drain and set aside.
Add the remaining grated onion which will thicken the sauce and add a bit of additional water if necessary. Continue to cook for an additional 20 min. slightly covered.
Rinse the preserved lemons and discard the inner pulp and quarter them. Add the olives and preserved lemons to the sauce when the chicken is very tender and almost falling off the bone. Continue to cook an additional 5-10 min.
Transfer the chicken, olives and preserved lemons to a large covered serving dish wit a slotted spoon and cover to keep warm.
Place the fireproof casserole on the stovetop and boil rapidly to reduce the sauce down to about 1-1/2C Add the juice of 2 fresh lemons to the sauce, taste and adjust the salt if necessary. Pour over the chicken and serve with rice or cous cous
Grilled Moroccan Style Lamb
By Mark Sanne
1 boneless butterflied leg of lamb, well trimmed of excess fat
1/4C extra virgin olive oil
3T “Global Palate” Ras al Hanout spice mixture
2t “Global Palate” Black Smoked Sea Salt, crushed
4 cloves of garlic crushed and finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4C chopped parley
In a large bowl, add all of the ingredients except for the lamb and stir well to combine. Add the butterflied leg of lamb rubbing the spice mixture into the meat so that it completely coats the lamb.
Allow to marinate for 1-2 hours.
Heat the grill to med. high heat. When hot, add the lamb and cover the grill to prevent flare ups. Grill about 10 min. on each side or until the internal temperature reaches 120 degrees for rare, 125 degrees for med. Remove the lamb from the grill and place on a platter and loosely cover. Allow to rest for 15-30 min. then thinly slice at an angle. Serve with fruit chutney.