December 20, 2010

Moghrabieh (or Mograbeyeh)

Can I talk to you about moghrabieh? Also spelled mograbeyeh. And mograbieh. A.k.a. Lebanese couscous and Syrian couscous.

It was a learning experience.

For those of you familiar with Israeli couscous (which I am not) perhaps moghrabieh won't seem so foreign. But for those, like me, who only ever use the pin-head sized couscous, moghrabieh is a whole 'nother country.

What is it? Well, as the photo above shows, it's slightly irregular balls of buckshot-sized pasta.

What the photo doesn't show, however, is the fantastically chewy nature of these little beasts. Moghrabieh is incredibly starchy, so much so that, if you want to cook it pilaf style as I tried to, I would recommend parboiling it first to get rid of some of the starch.

Not that it wasn't a hit at my house. It was. But it had the just-ever-so-slight "fish eyes in glue" tapioca pearl-bubble tea texture. This is a beloved texture chez moi, so we were good with it, but for those who aren't, I'm just sayin'—parboil.

Nosing around on the web, I came up with a recipe that used it in soup, which seemed like a shockingly simple and good idea. All the starch these little balls give off would serve to thicken a soup and give it body. So I dumped my leftover moghrabieh into this soup recipe, except that I accidentally added curry powder instead of cumin and then thought "what the heck" and threw in a few handfuls of dal and added some leftover homemade cilantro-garlic paste from my fridge. (I love to use up leftovers.) But I'm sure the recipe is great as is, so go ahead and make it. The Vegetarian loved this soup, and I added some diced spanish chorizo to my bowl to satisfy my carnivorous lust.

Another moghrabieh recipe that intrigued me was this one. Also, I think if you steam it for, like,  two hours, you can use it like regular couscous.

And I'm thinking of using it instead of nokedli the next time I make chicken paprikas. Mainly because my cousin borrowed my nokedli maker and hasn't returned it yet. (I have lots of cousins, but if you're reading this, nokedli-maker-borrowing cousin, you know who you are.) Nokedli, for those of you who are not Hungarian, are the spaetzle-like dumplings that get served with chicken paprikas and, if you're my kids, are the only reason for having chicken paprikas, really.

So there you have it. Moghrabieh.

Try it. You'll like it.

December 11, 2010


Well folks, it's another one of those "I love my pressure cooker" posts. Today it's all about pozole, which the Soccer Monster enjoyed so much, he ate it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for two days.

Before those of you who don't have pressure cookers roll your eyes and turn away from this post, let me assure you that making pozole is just as easy without a pressure cooker. It merely takes much, much longer. And that time issue is frequently what keeps me from making something. If I'm trolling the aisles of the grocery store at 3 pm and think of making pozole and realize that it takes at least 2 hours, I'll probably pass. But if I think it could take an hour or less, I'll go for it. So that's why I love my pressure cooker.

But enough about my beloved companion. Let's talk pozole.  This recipe is so easy and so absolutely scrumptious, once you've made it, you'll wonder how you've gone all these years without it.

Also, as is true of many of my favorite recipes, it's a one pot meal. Easy, with less clean up. Love the one-potters!

I used canned white hominy in this recipe, and while traditionalists might disdain it, it seems to work just fine. I'm sure if I took the trouble to cook my own (and I will one day) I would have a revelation and vow never to go back to the canned stuff again, but right now the canned stuff suits me just fine. It's kind of like beans—sure, dried ones are better, but using canned is better than not eating beans at all.

The really important thing about this recipe is the pork. Chunks of boneless pork shoulder or boneless country-style ribs work best here—other cuts will be tough. However, be sure to trim as much fat as you possibly can off the pork before cooking it. Otherwise, the broth will be too fatty and you will have to defat it, an extra step that—egads!— uses up more pots and pans.

Traditionally, pozole is served with lots of garnishes—diced radishes, diced onions, more oregano, avocados, sliced cabbage or lettuce, lime, sliced jalapenos, and cilantro—which can add considerably to your prep time. If you want to streamline, you can skip most of the garnishes. I skipped the cabbage, onions, oregano, and avocados this time, and you can skip the radishes and jalapenos. But the cilantro and lime do add important finishing touches.

Really, make this for dinner tomorrow night. Your family will sigh with pleasure and thank you.

Mine certainly did.


1 onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil, regular oil, or lard
1 and 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder or country-style ribs, trimmed of all fat and cut into smallish chunks
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 large cans white hominy, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup minced cilantro
1 can chicken broth 
lime wedges and more minced cilantro, for garnish

In a pressure cooker or soup pot, heat oil or lard and saute onion, green pepper, and jalepeno until softened. Add garlic, pork, spices, salt, and pepper. Add water just to cover. Bring to a boil, cover pan, and simmer until pork is almost tender—about a 1/2 hour in the pressure cooker or an hour in a regular pot.

Take off lid, add hominy, cilantro, chicken broth and re-cover. Simmer for another 20 minutes to 1/2 hour in pressure cooker or another 45 minutes to an hour in a regular pot. Make sure pork is tender and check for seasoning. Ladle into bowls and serve with lime wedges, cilantro, warm corn tortillas or tortilla chips and, if desired, sliced jalapenos, shredded cabbage or lettuce, diced radish, sliced avocados, diced onion, and more oregano.

*This dish is great reheated the next day, but the hominy will continue to absorb the soup broth as it sits, so you may need to add more broth or water before reheating.

**You can make this with chicken instead of pork. But you will have to make and strain broth ahead of time and take meat off bones and shred. You could probably make it with boneless chicken and canned broth, but it would not be as good. I think the mix of pork and chicken broth works best.