Sometimes a simple finishing sauce can make a whole dish, if not meal. Regions are defined by such sauces- we always remember Brava drizzled over fried potatoes in Spain, Chimichurri spooned over grilled skirt steak in Argentina, and BBQ poured atop roast chicken legs in South Carolina. Such simple gestures add the ultimate finishing touch to a dish. Our thoughtful friends clearly know us too well when they gave us an assortment of gourmet sauces for our birthday.
Of the sauces, harissa was one that always intrigued us. Originating in Northern Africa, it’s a blend of hot peppers, garlic, olive oil and various spices. We used Williams Sonoma's Mourad's Moroccan Harissa as inspiration for an impromptu, refined dinner. We seared petite lamb chops and spooned the harissa right on top. Keeping with the North African theme, we assembled an Israeli couscous accompaniment with a bit of flare. To the pearly spheres, we added ruffled chopped kale, sweet golden raisins, mellow chickpeas, nutty sunflower seeds, and a lemon and honey vinaigrette. An alluring dinner for an adventurous palette...
Seared Petite Lamb Chops with Harissa Sauce
8 (4 oz) lamb chops
2 T EVOO
2 T fresh lemon juice
2 cloves minced garlic
2 T chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 T dried oregano
salt and pepper throughout
Harissa Sauce (we love Mourad's Moroccan Harissa from Williams Sonoma)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, toss the lamb chops with the EVOO, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, oregano, salt and pepper.
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 T EVOO to the skillet. Add four lamb chops to the hot skillet and sear for 3-4 minutes on each side until browned. Remove the lamb chops from the skillet and continue with the next four. Return all lamb chops to the skillet and place in the oven for 5-6 minutes for medium-rare. Feel free to cook for less or longer, depending on your taste. When the lamb is ready, remove the chops from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Spoon the harissa sauce on top and serve alongside the Israeli Couscous with Ruffled Kale, Golden Raisins and Chickpeas.
Israeli Couscous with Ruffled Kale, Golden Raisins and Chickpeas
1 T EVOO
2 c Israeli couscous, uncooked
4 c chicken broth
1 small bunch kale, de-stemmed and shredded
1 c canned chickpeas, rinsed
1 c golden raisins
1/2 c sunflower seeds
1/4 c chopped parsley
1/2 c T EVOO
2 T Red Wine Vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
1 T honey
salt and pepper throughout
In a deep saucepan, heat 1 T EVOO over medium heat. Add the Israeli couscous and toast for 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, cover, and increase heat to medium high. Once at a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the broth is absorbed and couscous is tender when fluffed with a fork.
While the couscous is cooking, Whisk together the dressing ingredients.
Add the shredded kale, chickpeas, golden raisins and sunflower seeds to the pan of warm couscous. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley. Pour the dressing on top and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4-6.
The harissa was the star of this meal. We look forward to adding it to chicken, roasted vegetables or even a burger as a revamped ketchup.