Sunday, February 21, 2010

Moroccan Meatball Stew

I know it has been a while, but don't worry, I survived the Snopocalypse. Much to my chagrin, I didn't have time to hit the grocery before the panic-stricken hordes began picking the shelves clean of milk, cheese and toilet paper. I spent the week grazing and foraging through my pantry, which in addition to the usual pasta and canned goods had a good store of dried fruit, a box of clementines, some bread, some green beans and a bunch of frozen steaks (courtesy of Mom and Dad). After a week of making-do on slapdash dinners and Fluffernutters, I was actively fantasizing about a hearty meat stew.

Part of that fantasy might have been the result of my snowcation dedication to finishing The Eye of the World, the first book in Robert Jordan's fantasy series The Wheel of Time. While I wasn't crazy about the book, the characters really whet my appetite. (Think Tolkien, but a lot less action and a lot more running away and more running away). When the characters aren't surviving on dried meat and cheese, like you do when you are being chased by Darkfriends, Halfmen or other minions of the Dark One, they are scarfing down meaty stews at farms and inns. After four days I couldn't help myself. I needed some stick-to-the-ribs comfort food. Enter Moroccan Meatball Tagine with cilantro and lemon couscous.

Moroccan Beef Meatball Tagine from January's Bon Appetit.

Couscous with Fresh Cilantro and Lemon Juice

I know it isn't really fair to write this, being February and all, but this recipe was possibly the best recipe I made in the last year.*  I suggested bringing a serving into work the next day, but Boyfriend and I both agreed it would upset the precarious balance of sharing the leftovers. We were still circling and eyeing each other over who would get more meatballs or veggies on the third night. I kid you not. The combination of the sweet, savory and hot spices was perfectly balanced, which just a hint of the cinnamon and nutmeg in every bite. And so economical! With the exception of the saffron (which I simply couldn't justify buying for an untested recipe) most, if not all, of these ingredients are things I buy on a regular basis. I am sure that omitting the saffron is some kind of cardinal sin to someone, but saffron is so expensive and I really don't know how it could have improved on an already wonderful dish. AND, I got to make my couscous in the cute new sauce pan Mom sent me. Huzzah!

*Despite this admission, I fully reserve the right to choose a Best of 2010 recipe later this year. In fairness, I didn't pick one for 2009, so it should all even out.

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