Moroccan beef stew & loaded couscous

It seems that chicken tagine is a bit dangerous — a gateway dish, if you will. Since popping open my first jar of preserved lemons, I’ve been busy experimenting with Moroccan-inspired cooking.

Scenario: picnic potluck. I wanted to contribute something that would be (a) easy to make in big batches beforehand and (b) able to be stored and served cold. A grain/bean salad immediately came to mind. I eyed the ingredients in my pantry and the rest fell into place. The resulting “loaded” couscous is incredibly simple, impressively colorful, and perfect for summer outings.

As we are wont to do, however, my friends brought an overabundance of food and we ended up taking home a good portion of our couscous. What to eat with it? As luck would have it, I had, in a rare instance of red-meat-ownership, a frozen beef tenderloin that my mom had gifted me. Jay and I found an easy recipe for it (making quick work of our remaining Moroccan-themed ingredients) and churned out a truly tasty stew in under half an hour. Served atop our couscous, it was an excellent lazy Sunday meal.

Moroccan beef stew

Adapted from Bon Appetit via Epicurious

We doubled the portion and used what we had on hand — not a problem for a very flexible recipe. Jay and I left out the chickpeas, which meant that the broth had to spend more time simmering and thickening. We also adjusted the spices (dialing back a bit on the cinnamon, in particular) according to our tastes.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 2 and 3/4 pounds of beef tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Salt and pepper, as needed.
  • 1 onion (I used red)
  • 2 large carrots
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons of paprika
  • 4 teaspoons of cumin
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 4 cups of beef broth
  • 1/2 cup of kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 cup of raisins
  • 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 preserved lemon, seeded and chopped

Instructions

  1. In a heavy, large saucepan over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  2. Season beef with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add beef to pan and brown on all sides (about 3 minutes per batch). The beef will cook further later, so no need to worry about pinkness. Transfer beef to plate or bowl.
  3. Add additional 1 tablespoon of olive oil, onion, carrots, and garlic to pan. Cook until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add spices. Cook and stir for 1 minute.
  5. Add broth, olives, raisins, preserved lemon, and cilantro. Bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer until juices thicken. Really give it some time, if need be — you don’t want to add the beef back in until the stew is nearing its final stages.
  6. Add beef (with any accumulated juices). Stir until beef is cooked through, garnish with fresh cilantro, and serve.

Loaded couscous

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

The original recipe says that this makes four servings, but I’d imagine it could easily serve 6-8 people (depending on whether it’s the entree or a side). It also recommends serving immediately, but this stores exceptionally and can be refrigerated and enjoyed cold or at room temperature.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 onion (I used red)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 cups water (feel free to use a vegetable or meat broth for more flavor)
  • 1/2 teaspoons of salt, plus more to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of couscous
  • 1 can (15 ounces) of chickpeas
  • 3/4 cup of slivered almonds (you can toast these if you’d like, though I didn’t)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3/4 cups of kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 preserved lemon rind, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 7 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add water, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil.
  4. Remove the saucepan from heat. Add couscous, stir well, and cover. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  5. Fluff the couscous with a fork. Add in the remaining ingredients and toss gently. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
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