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can you do the couscous? how to make real Moroccan couscous by Yee-Fan Sun | 1 2 3
continued from page 2

couscous with 7 vegetables
Seven is considered a lucky number in Moroccan culture -- you can substitute the veggies in this dish with others if you like, but to keep it authentic, it's best to keep the total to seven different varieties. Try russet potatoes, pumpkin or butternut squash in place of the sweet potato; leave out the chickpeas and use fava beans or cabbage; use turnips instead of carrots… have fun experimenting.

For the beef chuck, I use neck bones, which are unbelievably cheap but pretty much totally lacking in meat -- this is fine with me, as I'm more interested in getting that good beef flavor than actually having chunks of beef for the dish. You can use any sort of chuck you like; the key is to use a cut that's meant for braising. You can also substitute the beef with lamb shanks -- very traditional -- or even chicken. The taste will be different, but still good.

1.5 pounds beef chuck 
3 Tbsp. olive oil or butter
1 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
˝ tsp turmeric
generous pinch of saffron
1 whole cinnamon stick
1 fat yellow onion, halved and quartered
3 tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped very roughly
3 carrots, peeled and cut in chunks
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut in chunks
1 large red bell pepper, de-seeded and cut in chunks
1 can chickpeas
2 medium-large zucchinis, cut in chunks
cayenne pepper, optional
handful of black raisins, optional

1 Toss the beef, oil, salt, pepper, turmeric, saffron, cinnamon stick, onion and tomato into the big pot over which you plan to steam your couscous. Turn the heat to medium until you get a little sizzle; reduce heat to low and brown the meat and goodies for about 10 minutes, swirling the pot from time to time to avoid sticking.

2 Add 6 cups of water and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower heat until you get a gentle bubble, and simmer for about an hour. During this time, you should do the first drying, first steaming, and second drying of the couscous. After the first steaming, add the carrots, sweet potatoes and bell pepper to the stewy goodness and cook for about 30 minutes. At this point, your stew should be starting to take on a good flavor. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. Remove the beef bones. The stew can be prepped in advance up till this point.

3 About a half hour before dinner, get the pot boiling again. Add the chickpeas and zucchini chunks, and raisins (if you're using them). Do the final steaming for the couscous, while the stew simmers below. To serve, pile the couscous into a mound, then make a well in the center. Spoon a generous amount of veggies and meat into the well. Drizzle the grains with enough broth to moisten, then serve the remaining stew on the side.


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