November 2009

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I have made this dish many times and each time a little differently.  Each time I really love the results.  The meat can change, the cooking can be with either fresh or pickled plums.  Vegetables can be a part of or not and this always turns out excellently.  This dish is so very forgiving but always worth the effort.

This dish is a melt in your mouth fall festivle of sweet sour and smoooooth.  Remember those pickled plums (Qarasiya Mukhallala)?  Well we’re going to use those in this dish (though you don’t have to).  If pickled plums aren’t available use fresh plums!

Khaukhiyya

(Meat with Plums)

Translation:

Boil meat and plums.  Fry vegetables – Swiss chard, eggplant, carrots, gourds and so on.  Macerate the plums in the meat broth and strain it and put it with the vegetables.  Then sweeten it and garnish it with walnuts and parsley. (Rodinson, pg. 472)

Ingredients:

2lbs Beef, Venison or Lamb       3 cups pickled plums w/juice ***

¼ cup chopped walnuts                                  3 Tbs fresh chopped parsley

Vegetables:

3 cups carrots  (or combination eggplant, swiss chard, spinach, squash etc)

2 Tbs sesame oil

***If pickled plums are not available use:

2 C. fresh plums               3 Tbs honey           1 Tbs vinegar             1 C water

My redaction:

I took regular beef stew meat this time and place the meat in a pot with 3 cups of pickled plums w/ juice.  Now the plums I had pickled were put up about 5 months ago and were very very ripe.  For plums that can be served on their own and used for garnish you want to make sure that the plums are firm.  If very ripe plums are used it is more then likely that the pickling will result in a fabulous sweet/tart plum juice and shreds of plum (which work very well for this dish also!).

Spices

The plum juice is front and center.  The actual plums (in this case plum mush) are waiting to join the meat and juice in a nice long simmering bath)

meat w plums cooking

While the meat and the plums are cooking, start the carrots.  I took the 3 cups of carrots and tossed them with the sesame oil then placed in the oven for the same amount time that the meat will be simmering in the plum bath.

carrots w oil

The recipe calls for frying which takes a lot of time standing at the stove and stirring.  I chose to by pass this with excellent results by just using the oven and oil.  Works very well.  This method will work for other vegetables as well though I do suggest that carrots be cooked first (as they are firmer) then as the cooking winds down the softer veggies such as squash and swish chard are mixed about half way to 2/3 of the way to being done.  Soft cooked veggies are desired, not mushy veggies.

So carrots at 350 for about 1 hour or for as long as it takes the meat to become tender in the plum bath.  Allow the plum broth to reduce by 1/2 and thicken to an almost gravy like consistency.

Once the meat has simmered till just about falling apart tender (1- 1.5 hours), pull out the carrots (or other veggies) and place them in a ceramic dish leaving an empty spot in the center.    Place the meat chunks into the center of the veggies until all the meat is in the center or the dish is in peril of over flowing.  Spoon the plum sauce over the meat, then spinkle with chopped walnuts and parsley.

finished dish

This dish is excellent hot or cold, served on a bus or on a train, in the dark or in the rain.

This is a seasonal dish/item.  So while I actually do have pickled plums on hand I can’t show you how I made them…yet.  I will update this with pictures as soon as I get my hands on some fabulous plums.

So a quick history of plums:

Plums were known in Egypt by the provisions of dried prunes, cultivation of plums were spoken of by Pliny during Roman times and “the dark-skinned ‘damask plums’” were highly prized in France. (Toussaint-Samat, pg. 642).  The plums bought mundanely are referred to as black plums; however the correlation between medieval “dark-skinned” plums and today’s black plums may be only somewhat  related as the modern variety has had centuries of cultivation.  The plum thought to be closest to the original plum described is the Damson plum which “Originating in the Middle East, they were brought back to Europe during the 12th century by the crusaders”. (Krachmal)

I used a generic black skinned plum that was sweet but firm.  The sweeter the plum the squishier the fruit which does not preserve as aesthetically as if the plum were slightly greener but less sweet.  So pick a firm plum that is on the cusp of being really really ripe but can be squeezed while remaining firm to the touch.

Qarasiya Mukhallala

(Pickled Plums)

Translation:

Put them in a pickling jar and put water on them, and a little vinegar and a like amount of honey.

Medieval Arab Cookery, pg. 397

Simplistic, yes?  There are no quantities given so a little experimentation was in order.

Ingredients:

5-8 plums (varying due to size and quality) per jar*

¾ to 1 cup water                                  1/4 cup (white wine) vinegar                             1/4 cup honey

My redaction:

jar and plums

This original translation does not call for pitting or cutting of the plums; however due to today’s sized plums it is a better choice that the plums be pitted, then cut into roughly 1 inch sized cubes/chunks.

cut plums

The reason I say that today’s plums as opposed to in period, is that period plums were probably much smaller (due to not having regular irrigation or modern fertilizers) and might have been used with the pits, they might not have.  The recipe is not specific enough to know which.  I personally do not like the idea of keeping pits in fruit when preserving.  This is dislike of keeping fruit and pits together is due to bacteria that may have formed from the stem opening and be working out from the pit area if whole, with that being said I am writing what I have used and find that works for me.  On that note, pit and cut your firm just ripened plums into to quarters and place into a clean jar till the pieces are just under the rim by 1/2 inch.  I can usually fit 5-8 plums per cleaned jar (depending upon spaghetti jar or canning jar used).  This jar  holds 6 plums.

For the amount of water to vinegar to honey ratio; we know that the vinegar and the honey must equal the same amount as the comment is “…a little vinegar and a like amount of honey.”.  So with that in mind and I like sweet, I filled the jar that is filled with plums 1/2 with water.

plums w water

Do NOT fill the jar with water piror to putting the plums in.  Then things get really mess.  Fill the jar with plums first then half way with water.  Fill the next quarter with a honey, but only a quarter of the way.

plums w honey

The final quarter will be filled with vinegar to the rims edge.  make sure that the vinegar covers the pieces of plum.   Here I used a balsamic vinegar.  Any vinegar can be used i.e. wine  or apple cider.  I just liked the tart/sweet tast of the balsamic with the plums.

plums w vinegar

Then seal with a lid.  Once you seal with a lid, turn the jar upside down a few times.  This mixes everything together and gets the air bubbles to the top.  Unscrew the lid and add a little more honey or vinegar.  Seal.  Repeat once more.  You want all the air bubbles out so that bacteria does not have an air pocket to gain a foot hold.

Why were water, honey and vinegar used together?  Besides the sweet and sour taste?  Couldn’t the water be done away with?  Addressing the honey and vinegar issue first.  The honey acts as an anti-bacterial while the vinegar is extremely acidic.  Both help retard bacteria that would be on and attracted to the cut up fruit.  Water is a neutral liquid.   With the addition of a neutral liquid neither the honey nor the vinegar overwhelm the taste of the fruit while just giving a hint (strong hint) in equal portions to sweet and sour.

Note on jars:  I reuse my old spaghetti jar’s or apple sauce jars after putting them through the wash.  I do not boil to sterilize as this was not a period practice.  I do however place the jar(s) in the fridge for longevity sake.  One container of pickled plums will last a year for me (the time may vary for you so be careful!!!).   The pickled plums can be used either as a tasty treat or in recipes that call for pickles, honey and vinegar.

Now by this time you may be thinking, “Hey, you’ve done a LOT of meatballs!”  and you’d be right, I have done quite a few meatball dishes. There is a reason meatballs are well documented in favored dishes.  Meatballs were a way to say “I, and my house, have become well enough off that we can spend that extra 2-3 hours taking perfectly good meat, pound it flat, add expensive spices and roll the tasty treat of meat into bite sized balls; all for YOU, our favored guest.”  Meat was  a luxury in period times due and meat balls even more so.   As for me making meatballs, well I had some ground hamburger and a new recipe to try out.

Raihaniyya

(Aromatic Herbs with Meatballs)

Translation:

Its recipe is that you cut up fat meat small and boil it in water.  Then put dainty meatballs in it and a handful of peeled chickpeas.  When it is nearly done, take half as much spinach as the meat and cut it up small with the knife and half boil it.  Then throw it on the meat, and adjust its salt and spices.  If there remains some water in it, let it go away.  Put as much melted fat of fresh tail as it will bear on it, and a scraped stick of Chinese cinnamon, and leave it until it becomes done in the fat and is completely done.  Then reduce its fire, and it settles and is taken up.

Ingredients:

1 lb stew meat (beef, venison, or lamb) 1 lb of ground meat (beef, venison or lamb)

1 tsp ea.  Pepper, ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon

(Alternate spices to add would be black anise seeds, hot pepper seeds, garlic, dill, thyme)

¼ tsp saffron      1 onion       1 can garbanzo beans

1 Tbsp sesame oil (olive oil if sesame is not available)

2 cups chopped spinach (de-stemmed unless baby spinach)

Salt to taste         1 tsp thyme, cinnamon, salt

(Rodinson, pp. 348)

My Redaction:

I took a 1lb brick of hamburger meat and 1lb of cut up stew meat (that was cut into bite sized pieces).   The meat does not specify being all of the same.  A combination of meat chunks could have been used as well as a combination of pounded meat.    The meat size should be bite sized are even slightly smaller.  What is the use of making a really tasty dish if guests aren’t able to enjoy a bite sized piece but have to stop, take the piece of meat from their dish, cut the meat into a more manageable piece then put down the knife and  chew?   With the meat in bite sized pieces, eating is all one step of select, bite, swallow, then  cheer the cook on to more dizzying heights of cooking extravaganzas!

Once the stew meat size has been established, the stew meat was added to a pot with water only 1/2 inch over the meat and boiled till almost done. Modern cooking really doesn’t like boiled meat as the idea that boiling renders the meat flavorless.    If spices weren’t added or oil(s) etc then yest the meat would be flavorless; however in period boiling had the added benefit of not only cooking quickly, but cleanly as well.  Any sand or nasty bits on the meat went to the scum which was always skimmed off leaving clean well cooked meat in a pot.

I had preselected and measured the spices, cut up the onion, and spinach.

Spices

The spices, the little white dish to the side of the garbanzo beans, were added to the ground meat, mixed well and small bite sized meatballs were then formed, except for the last 1tsp of thyme, cinnamon and salt.  Those spices will be added to the overall dish at the end.

meatballs a

Once the meatballs had been formed, they were added into the boiling water with the other stew meat.  Don’t worry, the meat should not fall apart at the touch of water; however you do want enough water to cover all the meat to get everything well cooked, then I added the garbanzo beans.

When the meatballs have been almost thoroughly cooked, I drained all the excess water out of the pot leaving the meat and the beans.    Sesame oil was added to the pot before replacing on the stove.  The remaining spices; 1 tsp thyme, cinnamon, salt, were then added as well as the onions and chopped up spinach.  The recipe calls for tail fat yet sesame oil was used in substitution.    I’ve written before on the extreme muttiness of tail fat and how I’m avoiding that extreme at this time.

cooked meatballs

This dish smells wonderful…and tastes excellently!  This is a colorful tasty warm dish that is fairly healthy in regards to the modern diet.  I would suggest serving the dish with either saffron rice or even over a bed of spinach.

Patina de Piris

Pear Pudding

The original recipe is a bit sparse on direction.   This is one of those recipes where you really need to know what to do in the kitchen…but once you know what you are doing…the sky is the limit on how to blend these ingredients together for a most wonderful tasty treat!

Translation:

A pear patina: grind boiled and cored pears with pepper, cumin, honey, passum, garum, and a bit of oil.

Flower, pg. 109./Herklotz, pg. 172-173

*Passum: a sweet raison wine.  (If Passum is not available either to buy or made, use a sweet mead or rose hip wine.  The main feature to remember is that you want a sweet dessert wine to compliment the pear taste.)

Ingredients:

5 pears   (Peeled and poached)             1/3 – 1/2 cup of  honey

1 tsp  ea of ground pepper, cumin and fish sauce

1 C.  sweet wine          2 eggs            1  C.  cream

1tsp olive oil

My Redaction:

When I first read this recipe, translated the boiled pears as to be poached.  Roman’s loved their cooking far to much to just “boil” in water if wine was to be had on hand.   So with that in mind, I took 5 Bartlet pears (very firm) peeled, cored then poached in mead.   Poached pears

Now these pears were allowed to steep for about 5 hours in the mead for yummy maximum goodness (and I was crazy busy after I had finished poaching them.  So I turned of the stove and let them steep…a loooong time.)

After the pears were removed from their decedent mead bath (this is a Roman dish…and what is Rome with out a decedent bath some where?!),  I mashed the pears into a rough consistency and added the spices, honey and wine.

Now you may be going at this point…Fish Sauce!!! in a dessert!!! Ewwww.  Now now…don’t judge.  Try this once WITH the sauce.  It really makes the dish.  Like all dishes that have fish sauce, a little will do wonders…don’t go overboard or yes the dish will taste of fish.  As the saying goes, “A dab will do you!”.

precooked mixture

Now this is the mashed pears with all of the spices, honey and wine.   The pudding consistency will depend on how much or how little wine is used and eggs are added.  I like my pear pudding a bit on the wet side.  When I reach for a ladle of this sweetness, I have extra juice.    Just the perfect amount to add short bread cookies to, for sopping up the excess.   If you prefer a dryer pudding (one that is firm and not dripping with extra wine sweet spiciness, cut the wine by half and add an extra egg.

Once a consistency is decided upon, pour the pudding into your pottery dish (or pudding dish) and cook till golden on top.

cooked mixture

I had a little extra browning on the edges here while waiting for the center to firm up a bit.  Keep an eye on the pudding through out the cooking so that over cooking (or even burning) does not occur.

Now I eat this with candle light and a spoon in a hot tub.  Pfft…ok I would if I had the hot tub and the time to light the candles!  This dish is a sweet rich  confection that is just amazing.   I might suggest serving shortbread cookies on the side as a way to cut the rich sweetness of this, but then again everything goes with shortbread cookies and pear pudding.

Minutal Ex Praecoquis

Pork and Apricot Fricasee

When I first started to do redactions, I adored doing Roman foods.    Now don’t get me wrong, the Romans did many things very well, cooking being one of them.  It is not my first cooking love but a wonderful stand by for those days when I need that little indulgence that Medieval ME just can’t and wont give me.  And by that…I mean, pork!!!  Yummy tasty piggy!  Err…I’ll get to the recipe now.

Translation:

1st translation:  In a pot, put oil, garum, and wine; chopped dried Ascalionian onion, and dice cooked pork shoulder.  When all these things are cooked, grind pepper, cumin, dried mint, and dill; moisten with honey, garum, passum, a bit of vinegar, and the cooking juice; mix.  Add pitted apricots, bring to a boil, and ehat until cooked.  Theicken with crumbled tracta, sprinklw with pepper, and serve.

2nd translation:  Put in the saucepan oil, liquamen, wine, chop in dry shallot, add diced shoulder of pork cooked previously.  When all this is cooked pound pepper, cumin, dried mint, and dill, moisten with honey, liquamen, passum, a little vinegar, and some cooking-liquor; mix well.  Add the stoned apricots.  Bring to the boil, and let it boil until done.  Crumble pastry to bind sprinkle with pepper and serve.

(Apicius 170/Flower, pg. 115/Herkotz, pg. 67)

Ingredients:

2 Tbs olive oil               2 tsp garum  (fish sauce)

½ cup wine

3 shallots/1 onion or 4 Tbs dried onion

1 lb cubed pork                   ½ tsp pepper

1 tsp cumin                          1 tsp dried mint

1 tsp dill                                 2 Tbs honey                 2 Tbs vinegar


My redaction:

The original recipe called for pork shoulders.  Now a quick note on Roman cooking.  Roman cooks liked to substitute, like mad.  Must have been the lead in the waterways.  Actually it was probably the fact that if item a was not on hand then item b would have to do, so new and improved recipes were always being formed, written, eaten and extolled about.  So here I am, with out pork shoulder but I do have some excellent boneless pork ribs.  What is a cook to do!  Well I cut those riblets up into bite sized chunks and boiled them to cook into tenderized tasty morsels!

pork

In a pan I poured in a bit of fish sauce (substituting for the original liquamen), wine (I had a 7 year old bottle of home made mead on hand…though I have used home made rose hip wine as well), chopped onion, and the cooked pork.

spices wine apricots

I let the meat, onions and liquids simmer for a few minutes (roughly 5-10) then I added the spices with honey and a touch of vinegar.  The vinegar is helpful in cutting the fish sauce’s salty fishy taste to a mellow slightly salty unique flavor.  Trust me on this one.  The fish sauce is a necessity and as long as it’s not over done in the dish the vinegar with a touch of honey mellows out the strong flavor to an excellence hard to find in today’s regular pork dishes!  I also added another 1/2 of mead with the chopped apricots.  I like the taste of mead and apricots with pork.

pork in bowl

Now here is where I and the translation part ways.  I did not want to add crumbled bread crumbs or pastry as I like the pork and apricot stew as a dry soup and not a breaded meat dish.   The original translation can be done with bread or with out.  I choose to go with out and I liked it!

Stuffed Chicken Skin

(also known as Franken Chicken)

This recipe was done out of curiosity.  I mean really how often do you go to a dinner party and say “OMG…that chicken is a STUFFED chicken?! “  In period for a really excellent high end dinner this is exactly what they did.  They made castles out of pastry and sugars, meat dishes with out meat (Romans’ were famous for this) and re-stuffing a chicken skin or a pig skin was nothing.  This type of over the top cooking showed how refined and well to do the host was.   This was known as  “conspicuous” quality of creation.

Translation from Wusla:

There are a couple of varieties:

First Recipe: Take a chicken, scald it with boiling water and do not split either it’s belly or it’s crop.  Push a meat skewer (mirwad) into its neck between the skin and the meat and use the skewer to separate the two.  Blow hard into the neck (orifice) to detach all the skin from the meat.  Whenever you find a little piece still attached (to the skin) which will not be freed by the blowing, use the skewer to detach it.  Then use a thread to anchor the skin to the leg bones and split the bird along its back (from) the tail to the base of the neck. Remove the meat, leaving the leg bones including the thigh bones, in position.  Likewise cut the wing tendons inside the skin.  Stuff with rice, meat, chickpeas and onions, chopped as for stuffed trip (sakhatir).  The wings are left as they are (their meat) not being separated from (their) skin, so as to complete the illusion of a (real) chicken.  The skin is sewn back together and the neck is attached firmly…also being sewn up.  Cook in water with stuffed tripe.  This can also be fried afterward, if desired, or it can be left to finish cooking in the water.

2nd recipe:  With a stuffing of pounded meat as described abofe: take the meat of a chicken prepared as above and that of another chicken, leaving a skin wich can accommodate the meat of both chickens.  Cook in water and then pound thoroughly in a mortar.  Place in a cooking pot with a little chicken fat and sesame oil, some olive oil, hot seeds and parsley leaves and fry until the meat is golden.  Add some minced onions and some mint.  When the stuffing is cooked, fill the chicken skin with it, sew up and secure firmly at the base of the neck, after replacing the sternum in its proper place in the breast so as to give the impression of a real chicken.  Cook in water, then fry and place any remaining stuffing with the chicken.

(Medieval Arabic Cookery, Rodinson, pp. 162)

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken            1 onion         ¼ cup fresh parsley (or 2 tbs dried)

1 Tbs sesame oil, olive oil and chicken fat,         1 Tbs  mint       1 Tbs dried peppers

1 tsp salt (or to taste).

My redaction:

When teaching classes on how to do Middle Eastern or Roman redaction, I can not stress enough on the necessity to read and re-read the instructions several times.  The first read through is to get a feel for the ingredients.  The second read through is a better understanding of HOW a dish was put together.  In this case…how a dish was disassembled then reassembled.

I took a fully thawed fryer and scalded in boiling water for 30 seconds.  The scalding tightens the skin, which helps with the skin removal process.  Do not fool yourself on this part.  The skin is still paper thin and extremely fragile…the scalding just helps tighten it up a bit;  this does not make the skin impervious to damage.

I inserted a metal skewer, one I had laying around for kabob’s, into the neck and started to gently separate the skin from the meat by severing the connecting tissue between the two.  I did not blow on the skin.  (Even though the chicken was well rinsed prior to the scalding, I am not willing to put my lips on what is still mostly raw chicken!)  Remove the tail of the chicken if this is included on your fryer.  I was not particularly graceful in the skin removal as I would have liked; there were several holes in the skin by the time I was done.

skin

As you can see the skin looks properly deflated.  Rather embarrassed in fact as if I had caught the skin just stepping out of a hot tub.    (I know…I just couldn’t help myself on that one!)

The redaction calls for not splitting either the breast or crop area, which is the front of the bird.  I had to split the chicken skin along the back as there was no other way to remove the skin from the meat no matter how much skewering or blowing was done.  Now here is the tricky part, and a little change to the original recipe.   I decided on my first try to keep the wings but do away with the legs.  The original recipe calls for the leg bones and wings (with meat) to remain attached to the skin with thread attaching the skin to the legs.  Then the leg and wing joints are  severed at the body with thread connecting the bottom leg skin to the bottom leg bone, while all the meat was removed carefully to leave the skin intact .  This bird was NOT going to be able to do any running when all the stuffing and cooking was done!    The theory was that the meat stuffing would refill the leg skin with the leg bones giving shape and definition.   Knowing my own limitations for not renting the skin further…I just took the legs off but left the wings.

At this point there was a skin (see above picture) and a very naked bird waiting to be stripped of meat and bones.   I took every scrap of usable meat from the chicken and ground it.  The redaction calls for “pound thoroughly in a mortor”.  I believe this was to render the chicken meat much like ground hamburger, making it easier for cooking then re-stuffing into our skin.

I had all the ingredients on hand and added a bit of salt.

spices

The redaction calls for 2 oils and 1 fat.  Sesame oil, olive oil and chicken fat.  I had chicken fat on hand (I save the fat from roasted chicken, roughly a cup rendered per roasting) as there are many really good redaction recipes that call for throwing a pudding under a chicken and letting the chicken fat drip into the pudding pan.  So save that grease because you never know when the next wonderful recipe will call for a Tbsp or two.

I went with the 2nd redaction as I did not have any cooked rice on hand but I did have onions and parsley from the garden readily available.  The 2nd recipe calls for the meat of another bird.  I didn’t find this necessary; however if I had actually left the leg skins attached it might have been.

The next step in the redaction calls for throwing the meat into boiling water for skimming.  I don’t have to worry about sand, dirt or impurities having collected on my chicken meat so I skipped straight to the “Place in a cooking pot with a little chicken fat and sesame oil, some olive oil, hot seeds and parsley leaves and fry until the meat is golden”.    Just like that…then add the chopped onion and mint till the onions are translucent.  Take a taste and then add salt.

This redaction  could go on any table, for dinner and do a cook proud as it is VERY tasty; however we now get to the complicated messy but interesting part!

While the meat was frying and the onions sauteing in the really heady oil mixture, take a bit of thread (I used a sturdy quilting thread…hey I had it on hand!) and sew up any rents that were made in the skin while removing.  The correct thing to do for the chicken skin is to also sew up the neck and back and leaving the bottom opened for stuffing.  Unfortunately for me…Murphy and his law showed up and my plans were slightly re-arranged on what should have been done to what could be done.

Keep an eye on the chicken meat while stitching up the skin!!  When everything is finished cooking, take the meat and spices and let them cool till you can handle the mixture with your hands.  Once the meat can be handled commence stuffing your sewn up skin.  Do not over stuff.  Any meat that is left over will be used around the stuffed cooked chicken, so as to not go to waste.

stuffed skin

This is the stuffed skin after Mr. Murphy showed me that I should have sewn everything up tight prior to stuffing (NOT after) and that the belly/crop skin was so very thin that flipping the bird on to it’s back to hide the stitches was no longer an option (as the skin would split, spilling all the stuffing out).

The next step calls for boiling the stuffed skin then frying.  My poor bird was not up for boiling.  The skin had not been sewn up tight enough to be water tight so I opted to bake instead.  I placed the bird very gently into a pottery chicken roaster (as small casserole dish would work as well) and popped the naked stuffed chicken into the oven at 350 degrees till the wings were thoroughly cooked and the skin was a nice golden brown.

cooked chicken skin

There will be chicken grease at the bottom of the clay pot, as well as a little of the excess oils from cooking the meat.   In period a roasting chicken’s grease was used in puddings and other dishes.  It would not be going out on a limb by much to say that throwing either couscous or rice at the bottom of the clay pot prior to cooking is out of bounds, adding a wonderful rich meaty/fattiness (you NEEDED those calories in period) to a bland but satisfying carb.

While this looks likes Frankenstein dinner…it’s a very tasty treaty.  I am sure that the dinner parties thrown by the sultans and caliphs had cooks who could get a chicken naked in under 3 minutes with out huge tears, I’m afraid at this point this redaction for looks gets a C – while the taste gets an A +!

Makabib al-Yahud

(The meatballs of the Jews)

This recipe starts with lean meat.  The meat is not described as being kosher. Kosher is (per Wikipidea) “…in regard to land beasts (Hebrew:Behemoth), Deuteronomy and Leviticus both state that anything which chews the cud and has a cloven hoof would be ritually clean, but those animals which only chew the cud or only have cloven hooves would be unclean.[8][9] The texts identify four animals in particular as being unclean for this reason – the hare, hyrax, camel, and pig — although the camel both ruminates and has two toes, while the hare and hyrax are coprophages rather than ruminants; the latter issues have been discussed by many, including the recent book on the subject by Rabbi Natan Slifkin[10].”

This clears up a little on the Kosher part (not knowing this prior to the redaction of this recipe), which means that rabbit, camel, hyrax, and pig would not be acceptable meats for this dish if this were to be served to a person following strict Kosher foods.

When this recipe was written, the writer did not say that the meat was halal.  Now Halal meat is meat that is acceptable for eating under Islamic law.   The assumption is that the meat would have been bought in the market (or slaughtered on the farm) according to Quranic verse.

So this recipe if a redaction is for an Islamic eater can include that of hare or camel but not pork, or meat of a predator (so for those living in Texas also known as Ansteorra…no coyote).  The meat must not be carrion (always a sound advice for what not to eat) or that has been killed by strangulation, gored, beaten, killed by a fall, or killed in name of another other then Allah.

So on to a recipe given to us by an Islamic scripe who had dinner with a Jewish host and thought highly of the meatballs!

Translation:

Boil lean meat after pounding it fine.  Then take it out and pound it again, and remove the tendons.  Then pound pistachio meats, Chinese cinnamon and peppers, each separately, and like wise salt, and cut up parsley, mint and celery leaf.  Then break eggs and beat them, and add the meat and ingredients sufficiently, then fry it and turn it over in sesame oil, and it comes out most excellent.

Ingredients:

1 lb hamburger meat  (or ground meat of an acceptable nature)

2 Tbs ground pistachios (unsalted)

1tsp ea of mint, parsley, celery leaf

½ tsp ea of salt, ground peppercorns, cinnamon

1 egg

1 Tbs sesame oil

My Redaction:

I used hamburger meat (10% or less of fat) as the main meat basis.  My reasoning on the ground beef is that it is widely available, if I had had venison on hand I would have used that instead being a HUGE venison fan.  Turkey could probably have been used as well as any other good ground meat depending on the cooks choice and taste.  I skipped the boiling of the meat as the hamburger was pretty tender already.   Originally meat was boiled to tenderize as the animals were probably a lot tougher then the grain feed meats seen in modern times.  For those curious, no…I was not going to hand grind 1 lb of beef.  Some things just need to be done by machines!

I set the meat in a bowl then added the  pistachios that had been roughly chopped then pounded fine with a mortar and pestle  (per the recipe these too were ground assuming finely ground), the egg and the spices.   The egg is used as a binding agent for the meat as lean meat does not hold together as well as a fattier grind.

spices for Makabib al-Yahud meatblls of the jews

After everything was combined together well meatballs were rolled out.  I made mine smaller then a golf-ball but larger then a hazelnut.  Some recipes call for meatballs the size of hazelnuts, which aren’t that big while others do not specify at all.  I choose to stick to a comfortable bite sized portion.

The meatballs were then fried in a pan with sesame oil till done.

meatballs in sesame oil

The recipe specifically says sesame oil.  Sesame oil is very tasty and there are several varieties.  The dark sesame oil leaves a very heavy oily/nutty taste while the lighter sesame oils leave a roasted nut taste.  The varieties are some what in order to using extra virgin olive oil to regular olive oil.  The darker the oil the more pronounced the sesame oil taste.

These are actually very good on their own.  I also really liked them with a yogurt/garlic dip made with Labayniyya (meat (balls) with yogurt).  The traditional dinner or lunch probably would have included either rice or couscous, vegetables (fried spinach is never wrong for meat dishes) and a flat bread used to scoop every possible bite up.