A simple and hearty dish; you can use chicken or any other type of meat instead of the lamb shanks. The meat is browned then cooked in water and the resulting broth is used to cook the green wheat (aka freekeh). You can make this dish without meat since the freekeh is full of iron and minerals it is a fine substitute for meat anyway.
Freekeh is sold in Middle-Eastern stores, some health food stores and online. The quality varies so check the grains carefully; if they look broken up and full of debris, don’t get them; freekeh will have some black sediments because it is smoked wheat berries, but not all freekeh are equal.
INGREDIENTS: 4 servings
- 1 lb lamb shanks or beef stew meat
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 cup of freekeh
- 1/4 cup oil
- spices: salt, to taste, 1/2 tsp black pepper, cinnamon and allspice or seven-spice mix
- 1/2 cup of almonds, pine nuts and pistachios mixed (or one or the other, optional)
- Wash the freekeh under running tap water then soak for a few minutes.
- Heat the oil and fry the onion and meat till the meat is browned and the onion has softened. Sprinkle the spices on the meat, then cover with 5 cups of water and bring the mixture to a simmer; simmer the meat covered for 45 minutes over medium-low heat until the meat is cooked and falls off the bone.
- Remove the meat from the pot and set aside, discarding any bones or gelatinous bits. Take the broth and pour it through a sieve, pressing on the onion to extract as much onion pulp as possible. Drain the freekeh and heat a tablespoon of oil in the pot and fry the freekeh until all the grains are coated in oil. Pour the meat broth over the freekeh (you need double the volume of liquid to grain) and cover the pot; bring to a simmer and let it simmer gently for 30 minutes or longer if the grain is still hard. If needed, add a little water.
- Serve this dish with toasted nuts on top and the lamb pieces placed over the freekeh (previously reheated a bit).
NOTE: You can make a sauce with any extra broth; dilute 1 heaping tablespoon of cornstarch for each cup of broth in 1/4 cup of water. Heat the broth and when it starts steaming add the cornstarch mixture and stir for a couple of minutes until thickened. Taste, adjust seasoning and serve.
Even though it is February, cold and damp in the orchard trees are starting to grow their blossoms.