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Couscous With Onion and Raisin Confit

All over the world, Jews celebrate Hanukkah with lighted candles and deep-fried foods. In Morocco, the fundamentals are no different, though, of course, the details are. While it isn't considered one of the major Jewish holidays, Hanukkah, which starts this ... Read more

Total time: 5 1/2 hours plus 2 hours chilling | Serves 8
  • 2 1/2 pounds onions
  • 10 cups water
  • 2 pounds beef shank meat
  • 2 beef soup bones
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 5 tablespoons oil, divided
  • 1 cup whole blanched almonds, fried or toasted
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 cup raisins, plumped in warm water 15 minutes, then dried
  • 2 cups couscous
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water, or more, to taste
  • Powdered sugar, for garnish

Step 1Quarter 2 of the onions. Combine the water, beef, beef bones, the quartered onions, the peppercorns and cinnamon stick in a stock pot or large soup pot. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. With a slotted spoon, skim off the foam. Reduce the heat to medium. Cover and cook until the beef is tender and the broth is fully flavored, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Season with 2 teaspoons of the salt. Strain. Reserve the meat and refrigerate for another use. Refrigerate the broth 2 hours or overnight.

Step 2Remove and discard the fat. Bring the broth to a boil, and reduce by one-fourth. This should take about 30 minutes. Set aside.

Step 3Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry the almonds, shaking the pan occasionally, until light gold, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Step 4Slice the remaining onions and add them to the same skillet with 1 tablespoon of the oil and 2 tablespoons of the broth. Cover and cook until the onions turn soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the sugar, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of salt. Partially cover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions acquire a deep caramel color, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Add the raisins and heat. Set aside.

Step 5Meanwhile, prepare the couscous. Bring 2 1/4 cups of the broth, the remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil and the remaining teaspoon of salt to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from the heat. Add the couscous in a stream. Stir once. Cover, and set aside until the couscous is tender, 5 to 7 minutes.

Step 6Reheat 2 cups of the reserved beef broth. Combine 1/2 cup of the broth with the orange blossom water and mix with the couscous. Mound the couscous on a warm serving platter. Spoon the onion mixture around the base. Garnish with spokes of fried almonds. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and a pinch or two of cinnamon. Serve with the remaining broth on the side.

Note: Orange blossom water is sold at Middle Eastern markets.
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