"African Goat Roast"
1 can French onion soup
1 can water
1 can pineapple-orange juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon white peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon green peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon pink peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes
2-3 lb. goat shoulder roast
2 leaves of sage
4 sprigs of thyme
1 sprig of lemon balm
In a medium crockpot, combine 1 can French onion soup, 1 can water, and 1 can pineapple-orange juice. Cover and turn on High.
In a mortar and pestle, grind together 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1/4 teaspoon white peppercorns, 1/4 teaspoon green peppercorns, and 1/4 teaspoon pink peppercorns. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin and 1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes. Set aside.
Rinse the goat roast and set it on a plate. Sprinkle most of the spice mixture over the top and sides of the roast. Put it into the crockpot, spiced side down. Sprinkle remaining spice over the roast.
Gather 2 leaves of sage, 4 sprigs of thyme, and 1 sprig of lemon balm. Strip the leaves from the stems. Discard the stems. Use kitchen scissors to snip the leaves over the goat roast.
Cover and cook for 5-6 hours until the meat falls apart and the bones come loose. Remove the roast from the crock, twist out the bones, and shred the meat with forks. Serves 3-4 people.
French onion soup is basically beef broth with onions, an excellent cooking base. If you don't have any, you can substitute beef broth with dried onion chips or half of a fresh onion.
Pineapple-orange juice provides a sweet fruity note, and the acid helps tenderize goat meat which can be tough. Plain pineapple or orange juice, or another acidic tropical juice, would also work.
Sea salt has a more complex flavor than plain table salt, but you can use table salt in this recipe if that's all you have.
Black, white, and green peppercorns all come from the same plant, just harvested in different ways. Pink ones come from a different plant. Their flavors vary, so combining them like this makes a complicated and zesty base for the spice blend. If you like hot food you can add more pepper.
Goat is a robust meat popular in Africa and diaspora cuisine. It benefits from slow, moist cooking to tenderize it. The flavor stands up well to strong spices. This was the most tender I've ever seen goat meat.
Lemon balm belongs to the mint family; it has a bright leafy green flavor with a strong lemony note. Moroccan cooking calls for lemon verbena, so you can use that instead if you have some. Just about any lemon-flavored herb would work.
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"African Candied Yams"
2-3 yams, peeled and cut into chunks
pinch of sea salt
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup pineapple-orange juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon pink salt
1 teaspoon rose flower water
1 teaspoon Ras el Hanout spice blend
1 tablespoon tapioca starch
Fill a large pot 2/3 full of water, add a pinch of sea salt, and set to boil.
Wash and peel the yams. Cut them into bite-sized chunks.
When the water boils, add the yam chunks. Boil until 5-10 minutes, until the yams begin to soften.
In an electric skillet, combine 4 tablespoons butter, 1 cup pineapple-orange juice, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon pink salt, 1 teaspoon orange flower water, and 1 teaspoon Ras el Hanout spice blend. Bring to a boil.
Use a slotted spoon to scoop the yam chunks out of the boiling water into a bowl. Add the yam chunks to the skillet, stirring until they are fully coated with the sauce. Sprinkle on the tapioca starch. Boil on high heat, stirring constantly. The dish is done when the sauce reduces to a syrup and the yams are fully tender.
Serve hot. Makes 3-4 servings as a side dish.
Yams or sweet potatoes are a traditional food serving as a staple in many African cultures. They take a considerable amount of time to clean, chop, and cook so plan ahead.
Sea salt and pink salt are two types of fancy salt. You can substitute plain table salt if that's all you have, but it takes less of that.
Pineapple-orange juice provides the sweet-sour base for the sauce. You can use plain pineapple or orange juice, or any other acidic tropical juice.
Rose flower water is one of several floral waters used in Moroccan cuisine. Orange flower water is another that would work well here.
Ras el Hanout is a sweet-hot Moroccan spice blend that may contain up to 30 different ingredients. Mine is simpler and leans toward the sweet end. If you want to make this recipe hotter, then add paprika, cayenne, or crushed red pepper flakes. It's easier to make sweet things hotter than vice versa. This is the heart of the recipe; if you substitute some other spice blend, you will get very different results.
Tapioca starch is just like the balls for tapioca pudding, only powdered. It makes a glossy, slightly sweet thickener for sauces. If you don't have any, leave it out; wheat flour won't give the same effect.
This recipe produces a dish with spicy, tangy, and sweet notes. It is less hot than some African recipes and less sweet than Southern candied yams. It makes an ideal accompaniment to robust African entrees such as goat or beef. It should expand easily if you need to make more. Fieldhaven culinary guinea pigs unanimously declared the best candied yam recipe any of us had ever tasted.
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"Ras el Hanout Spice Blend"
1/2 teaspoon rose baises peppercorns
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon paprika
dash of ground cloves
dash of nutmeg
First grind the rose baises peppercorns in a mortar and pestle. Then add all of the ground spices and stir to combine.
Ras el Hanout is a sweet-hot spice blend from Morocco. It can have 30 or more ingredients, although a combination of 10-12 spices is more common.
You can tune the effect by shifting the proportions of the sweet or hot ingredients. Using hot instead of mild paprika is one way to boost the heat, and using black instead of rose peppercorns is another. The rose baises have a fruity-sweet flavor with just a little heat. You may want to add cayenne or crushed red pepper. Remember that it's easier to make a sweet spice blend hotter than to dilute a hot one into something sweeter.
This recipe makes about two tablespoons of Ras el Hanout, enough to season several dishes. If you love it and want to make enough to keep on hand, just expand the recipe keeping the proportions intact. If you double it, you can use 1/4 teaspoon each of the ground cloves and nutmeg. Store in a spice jar.
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"Ginger Cobbler Topping"
2 cups Jiffy mix
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon frozen ginger root, thawed
2/3 cup half-n-half
In a medium mixing bowl, combine 2 cups Jiffy mix, 1/3 cup sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger. Add 1 tablespoon frozen ginger root (thawed) and
2/3 cup half-n-half. Stir until a sticky dough forms; it will be lumpy.
Drop the cobbler dough by tablespoonfuls over the surface of the pie filling.
Bake at 350ºF for 25-35 minutes. Cobbler topping should be golden-brown with fruit juices bubbling up through the gaps. Serve warm.
This makes a biscuit-like pie topping which is slightly sweet and spicy. You can vary the amount of sugar according to taste and change the spices depending on what fruit you are using, but this version should work with most pie fruits. You may also need to vary the amount of the topping in proportion to the filling; this recipe makes enough for a deep-dish pie.
Jiffy mix is an all-purpose baking mix that can make a lot of different recipes. Bisquick or any similar product should work as well.
Ginger root has a strong hot flavor when grated fresh; if you like that and have it, go ahead and use it. Freezing and then thawing it makes the heat milder. Whenever we need to grate ginger root, I always freeze any leftovers in tablespoon-size chunks for later use. You can make a whole batch in an ice cube tray, then pop them out and store in a baggie.
If you want fewer calories, you can use whole or skim milk instead of half-n-half.