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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Monday Night Dinner that Garnered a Standing Ovation (Lamb Meatballs and Mujadara)

The title of this post is no exaggeration. Shortly after declaring it, "the best meal you have cooked in five years," Michael told the kids they should give me a round of applause. And then Dylan stood up on the bench in the kitchen to turn that round of applause into a full out standing o. This is NOT the norm in my household, but damn, it was definitely satisfying.

Dinner was an old favorite that I hadn't made for years (mujadarah) along with a new dish that I tried for the very first time (lamb meatballs). The lamb recipe has a gajillion steps, so I am just going to link to it rather than adapt it and repost here. Click here for amazing lamb meatballs.

I will, however, share with you the recipe for Mujadara. This recipe comes from David Rosengarten, a chef who was a very big deal on the Food Network back in 1996 when I worked there. (He also wore a ridiculous amount of makeup when recording his shows, so when he'd swing by the cubicles to talk to the "little folk," we always ended up laughing over his oompa loompa face as soon as he left.) 

Mujadara

1 cup green or brown lentils
1 quart cold water
3 large white onions, sliced into thin half moons
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup basmati or jasmine rice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. allspice

Bring the lentils to a boil in the cold water and then turn the heat down to simmer. Let them cook for about 25 minutes or until they are just about tender. Reserve 1.5 cups of cooking liquid (you likely won't be able to reserve this much, but you can just make up the difference with fresh water), and drain the lentils.

While the lentils are cooking, cook the onions in olive oil until they get nice and soft (the original recipe calls for five minutes, but this took me at least 10). Pull out 1.5 cups of the onions and set them aside. Cook the rest of the onions until they are caramelized and verging on crispy (again, they say five minutes, but it was more like 10 or 15). Drain these on a paper towel and set them aside.

In that same saucepan, add the cooked lentils, the reserved liquid, the softened onions (not the caramelized ones), the rice, salt and allspice. Cook this over low heat, covered, until the rice is tender, which should happen in about 20 minutes. Serve topped with caramelized onions. Sit back while your family applauds your efforts.

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