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T'fina pkaila with beef

T'fina pkaila with beef
Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

Alain Cohen holds out a gorgeous spiral-shaped loaf of challah, the color of cherry wood. On the top of the bread is a graceful open hand made of dough. Cohen and his baker, Yuri Amsellen, have been experimenting again. From ... Read more

Total time: 3 hours, 15 minutes plus 2 to 2 1/2 hours cooking time for the spinach | Serves 8
  • 3 pounds fresh spinach leaves
  • 3 cups olive oil
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1/2 pound navy beans, large if possible, preferably soaked overnight
  • 2 large onions, finely diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 fresh mint leaves, or 3 teaspoons dried mint
  • 1 stick cinnamon, or 1/8 teaspoon ground
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 calf's foot, optional
  • 1 pound boneless beef shank, cut into 3- to 4-ounce pieces, or beef cheeks (use 3- to 5- ounce cheeks, depending on your preference)
  • 1 pound couscous
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 pound kosher sausage, preferably smoked andouille
  • 2 cups boiling water

Step 1Stem the spinach and wash it thoroughly. Drain.

Step 2Place a large, heavy-bottom pot over high heat and add the olive oil and spinach. (You may need to add in batches, stirring until each batch wilts before adding the next.)

Step 3As soon as any remaining water has evaporated from the leaves and they just begin to fry, lower the heat. Gently cook the leaves, stirring frequently. (If they burn, the dish must be started over again.) Cook the leaves until they are of an almost jam-like consistency and are greenish-black in color (this is called the "black gold" stage), about 1 1/2 to 2 hours (timing will vary depending on the heat of the oil and thickness of the pot).

Step 4Remove the pot from the heat. Strain the spinach from the oil, and place the spinach in a bowl. To the oil in the pot, add 2 quarts water, the beans, onion, garlic, mint, cinnamon and black pepper. Stir in the calf's foot if using.

Step 5Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. As soon as it comes to a boil, stir in the spinach and beef, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, until the meat is fork-tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. (The liquid level will reduce as the t'fina cooks and should ultimately have a sauce-like consistency; if the liquid evaporates too quickly, add additional water as needed until the meat is tender.)

Step 6Meanwhile, make the couscous: Place the couscous in a large shallow glass baking pan and stir in 1 tablespoon salt and the canola oil. Spread the couscous into a thin, even layer, then pour over the 2 cups boiling water and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set the couscous aside for 5 to 10 minutes until the water is absorbed, then uncover and fluff the couscous gently with a fork. Set aside in a warm place until the t'fina is ready.

Step 7When the meat is tender, stir in the sausage and remaining teaspoon salt. Continue to cook the t'fina until the sausage is cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. Strain any excess oil from the pan and discard. Season to taste with additional salt if desired.

Step 8On a large plate or platter, mound the couscous. Using a slotted spoon, plate the t'fina on another platter (a deep, pasta-style platter) with the meat, sausage and optional calf's foot arranged on top. Spoon additional sauce, as desired, over the dish. Serve immediately.

Note: Adapted from Got Kosher? Provisions. The original recipe includes osbana, a homemade sausage, in place of the kosher smoked andouille.


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