Flavor Notes by Robert Rich: Food, Wine, Restaurants & Recipes


Smoked Lamb "Tagine" with Rose Saffron Couscous

(Robert Rich, November 9, 2002)


Here is one of several recipes I came up with to find good uses for some particularly flavorful smoked lamb hocks made by Dittmer's, a favorite German wursthouse here in Mountain View, CA. "Tagine" is in quotes because this recipe doesn't actually use the dome covered clay pot from Morocco. It's more pseudo-Moroccan mixed with Persian, with a sweet-sour reduction sauce using pomegranate paste. You can find many of the spices and other unusual ingredients at Persian or Indian markets.

1 cup chicken stock
1 cup instant couscous
1 tsp. rose syrup
1 Tblsp. olive oil or butter
pinch of salt
pinch of saffron

Bring stock to a boil with the rose syrup, salt and oil. Remove from heat, stir in the saffron and couscous, then cover. Let sit for about 7 minutes. Fluff with fork before serving


1 hock of smoked lamb
1 onion, chopped
1 fennel root, chopped
1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
1 clove garlic, crushed and chopped
2 Tblsp. pomegranate paste
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup sweet vermouth
1 Tblsp. olive oil
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped seedless grapes
1 Tblsp. lemon juice
1 Tblsp. Worcestershire sauce

spice blend:
1 tsp. dry oregano
1 tsp. dry rosemary
1 tsp. whole coriander
1/2 tsp. whole cumin
1/2 tsp. sumac
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cardomon seeds
pinch of rue
pinch of sour grape powder
1 tsp. black peppercorns
salt to taste

Place spices in spice grinder and grind to a powder. When chopping the fennel root, separate and retain the fluffy green tops, chop them coarsley for use as a garnish later. Pull the lamb meat off of the bones, discarding the skin, fibrous tendon and fat. Chop the meat into small pieces. In a large deep skillet on medium heat, sweat the onions together with the fennel root in olive oil until translucent. Add the lamb and garlic, turn up the heat a bit to brown the edges of the onions. Total time about 10-15 minutes. Add the garbanzo beans, spice blend, a dash of salt, chicken stock, pommegranate paste, Worcestershire and sweet vermouth. Reduce down until the sauce is thick, about 5-10 minutes. Adjust the salt if needed. Stir in the parsley and lemon juice and remove from heat.

Serve the lamb on top of the couscous, garnished with a sprinkle of fresh parsley and fennel leaves.