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Grills & Roasts – Part 1

roasted-salmon-with-spices-pomegranate-cilantro

Roasted Salmon with Spices, Pomegranate & Cilantro

This spiced salmon makes a quick and easy midweek dinner, but tastes spectacular enough for guests, too. Cooking salmon with pomegranate en papillote (in a package) gives the fish a wonderful sharpness and sweetness. This goes well with Freekeh, Fava Bean & Pea Salad with Dill & Pomegranate.

PREP : 10 minutes
COOK : 15–20 minutes
SERVES : 4

  • 4 salmon fillets
  • 2 teaspoons ras el hanout
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
  • grated zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ pomegranate, seeds only
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut out four rectangles of parchment paper, each large enough to comfortably wrap a salmon fillet, and four slightly larger rectangles of aluminum foil. Lay each rectangle of parchment paper over a rectangle of foil. Put a salmon fillet in the center of each parchment paper piece.
  2. Sprinkle the fillets with the ras el hanout, salt, lemon zest and juice, and oil, then the pomegranate seeds and cilantro. Bring the long edges of the parchment paper up together, before folding them down a few times to form a crisp pleat over the top of the salmon and tucking the short edges below. Repeat with the foil underneath to form a secure package.
  3. Put the packages on a baking sheet. Roast on a high shelf of the oven for 15–20 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily when pressed with a knife. Serve the packages for people to unwrap at the table.

Cook’s tip : Cooking fish in a package is ideal if you are cooking for one, because it is low on mess and high on flavor.

ras-el-hanout-garlic-thyme-roasted-leg-of-lamb

Ras el Hanout, Garlic & Thyme Roasted Leg of Lamb

Slow-roasting this spiced leg of lamb will give you meltingly tender meat, and will fill your kitchen with wonderful aromas. This dish creates its own delicious ras el hanout-flavored gravy, but Zhoug is also an excellent accompaniment to cut through the richness of the lamb. If you’re not cooking for six to eight, consider using a 2¼-pound half leg of lamb, scaling the recipe down by half, and roasting the lamb for a total of 3 hours instead of 3½ in step three—it’s too delicious not to serve as a regular weekend meal.

PREP : 15 minutes
COOK : 3½ hours
REST : 30 minutes
SERVES : 6–8

  • 20 fresh lemon thyme sprigs
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled, plus 2 heads garlic, halved horizontally
  • 4 teaspoons sea salt flakes, plus a pinch
  • ¼ cup ras el hanout
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 (4½–5½ pound) leg of lamb
  • 2 onions, cut into quarters
  • 1¼ cups water
  • pinch of pepper, to serve
  • 1 tablespoon Greek-style plain yogurt, to serve
  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Strip the leaves from half the lemon thyme and put them into a mortar and pestle. Add the garlic cloves and 3 teaspoons of the salt and crush. Add the ras el hanout and oil, and mix to form a coarse paste.
  2. Put the lamb into a roasting pan. Using a sharp knife, make several small slits in the skin. Rub in the spice paste, working it into the slits well. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt, put the halved heads of garlic and quartered onions alongside it, sprinkle with the remaining lemon thyme, then pour the water around it.
  3. Roast for 30 minutes, uncovered. Baste the lamb with the cooking liquid and cover the pan with aluminum foil. Roast for an additional 3 hours, basting every half an hour.
  4. Transfer the lamb to a serving platter, add the onions and garlic, and let rest, covered in foil, for 30 minutes.
  5. For the gravy, skim the excess oil off the liquid and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir in the yogurt and serve alongside the roast lamb and onions.

Cook’s tip : For a more intense gravy, after skimming off the oil in step five, pour the liquid from the roasting pan into a small saucepan and reduce it by half before checking for seasoning and stirring through the yogurt off the heat.

roasted-chicken-pieces-with-harissa-rosewater

Roasted Chicken Pieces with Harissa & Rosewater

This one-dish chicken recipe is rich with the Middle Eastern flavors of harissa and rosewater. It’s simple enough for a midweek meal, but special enough for guests.

PREP : 25 minutes
MARINATE :  1 hour
COOK : 1 hour 15 minutes
SERVES : 4

  • 6 bone-in chicken thighs.
  • 6 bone-in chicken drumsticks
  • 1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
  • ⅓ cup slivered almonds, to garnish
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, to garnish
  • Marinade
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons rose harissa
  • 1 teaspoon rosewater
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Greek-style plain yogurt
  • 2 preserved lemons, rinsed and finely chopped
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon rose petals (optional)
  1. For the marinade, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Using a sharp knife, make several deep slashes in each chicken piece. Rub the marinade into the chicken and put it into a shallow dish. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
  3. When you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350°C. Arrange the chicken and lemon in a single layer in a large roasting pan. Roast for 30 minutes, then increase the heat to 400°F and roast for an additional 30–40 minutes, or until deep golden brown and cooked through. Push the tip of a sharp knife into the thickest part of a chicken piece; the meat should no longer be pink and the juices should be clear and piping hot. Cover the chicken with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, put the slivered almonds onto a baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 3–4 minutes, or until golden brown, checking them regularly as they will easily burn.
  5. Sprinkle the chicken with the cilantro and toasted almonds and serve.

Cook’s tip : Rosewater comes in different strengths, so taste your marinade to be sure you are happy with the flavor before using it.

grilled-eggplant-with-pomegranate-yogurt

Grilled Eggplant with Pomegranate & Yogurt

This dish is perfect for a grazing dinner, and can be easily scaled up if you’re cooking for more than four people. You will need a piece of cheesecloth for this recipe.

PREP : 45 minutes
COOK : 25 minutes
SERVES : 4 as a side dish, 2 as a main

  • 1¼ cups Greek-style plain yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt flakes, plus a pinch
  • 1 eggplant, cut into ¼-inch slices
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ pomegranate, seeds only
  1. Line a strainer with cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Mix the yogurt and a pinch of salt together in a separate bowl, then place it in the prepared strainer. Bring the edges of the cloth up and gently twist them together, then let drain for 30 minutes. Discard the liquid.
  2. Sprinkle the cut sides of each eggplant slice with the turmeric and remaining salt and rub it in well.
  3. Heat a ridged grill pan or heavy saucepan over medium–high heat until smoking hot. Working in batches, brush one side of the eggplant slices with oil and place them on the grill pan, oil side down, pressing down gently. Cook for 3 minutes, then brush the tops with oil, flip them over, and cook the other side for an additional 3 minutes.
  4. Place the eggplant on a large serving platter, in a single layer, if possible. Let cool, then spread each with 2 teaspoons of the drained yogurt. Sprinkle with the cilantro and pomegranate seeds. Serve at room temperature.

Cook’s tip : This dish improves in flavor if kept in the refrigerator for a few hours. Let it reach room temperature before serving.

THE MIDDLE EASTERN KITCHEN
Authentic dishes from the Middle East

Rukmini Lyer