© Quentin Bacon
Active Time
1 HR
Total Time
3 HR
Yield
Serves : 8 to 10

Paula Wolfert learned a chicken dish called chaariya medfouna from a private cook named Karima, left. "Chaariya means noodles," Wolfert says. "Medfoun means a surprise or something hidden.” In Paula’s adaptation, the steamed noodles cover tender chunks of lamb spiced with cumin.    More Recipes by Paula Wolfert  

How to Make It

Step 1    

In a small skillet, toast the saffron over moderately high heat until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool. Crumble the saffron threads and cover with 2 tablespoons of water.

Step 2    

In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. Add the lamb, onions, cinnamon sticks, ginger, pepper, turmeric and 2 teaspoons of salt. Cook over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until fragrant, 5 minutes.

Step 3    

Add the cilantro, the saffron water and 2 cups of fresh water to the casserole and bring to a simmer. Cover with a round of parchment paper and a lid; simmer, turning the lamb once, until tender, 1 hour.

Step 4    

Transfer the lamb and all but 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid to a bowl. Discard the cilantro and cinnamon sticks. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the casserole; cook over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Return the lamb and cooking liquid to the casserole and season with salt. Cover and let stand.

Step 5    

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a bowl, toss the noodles with the 2 teaspoons of oil. Oil a large steamer insert and set it in a pot. Add enough water to the pot to reach just below the insert; bring to a boil. Add the noodles, cover and steam over moderate heat for 20 minutes, adding more water as necessary.

Step 6    

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, cover the raisins with hot water and let soak until softened, 10 minutes; drain. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool completely, then finely chop.

Step 7    

Transfer the noodles to the bowl and toss with the raisins and salted water; return to the steamer insert, cover and steam for 20 minutes longer. Pour the noodles into the water in the pot and boil, stirring, until al dente, 2 minutes. Drain. Return the noodles and raisins to the bowl, add the butter and toss to coat. Season with salt.

Step 8    

Reheat the lamb. Spread half of the noodles in a large serving bowl and cover with the lamb stew. Mound the remaining noodles on top, making a well in the center. Fill the well with 3 tablespoons of the confectioners' sugar. In a bowl, combine the remaining confectioners' sugar with the almonds and ground cinnamon. Sprinkle the almond mixture over the noodles and serve.

Suggested Pairing

A Rhône Valley red with ample tannins will help counter this stew's richness. Try a Côtes du Rhône Rouge or Gigondas.

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