Although paprika and cumin are used most often to season Moroccan kefta (ground beef or lamb), a fragrant spice blend called Ras el Hanout can be used instead. That was the preferred preparation of a Casablanca sandwich shop we used to frequent, which offered the aromatically seasoned meat as a panini sandwich. The spices blended perfectly with additions of cheese and mayonnaise-based hot sauce, and the sandwich has become a family favorite.
If you'd like to make a lower-calorie version, kefta seasoned this way is also delicious stuffed in panini or pita bread with lettuce, tomato, raw onion and a dollop of yogurt tahini sauce. Instructions for making this optional sandwich are included in the directions below.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Resting time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
Yield: Serves 4
- ----- For the Kefta -----
- 1 lb. (about 1/2 kg) ground beef or lamb
- 1 small onion, grated
- 2 teaspoons Ras el Hanout
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley or cilantro (optional)
- ----- For the Mayonnaise Sauce -----
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 2 to 3 teaspoons harissa or hot sauce
- pinch of garlic powder (optional)
- ----- Optional Yogurt Sauce -----
- 1/2 cup plain, unflavored yogurt
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 clove of garlic, pressed
- salt to taste
- ----- To Assemble -----
- 6 to 8 panini rolls, pita rounds or large batbouts
- spreadable cheese, such as cream cheese or La Vache Qui Rit
- sandwich cheese slices
- toppings such as lettuce, tomato, olives, etc.
Ahead of time, mix the ground beef with the onion and spices. Knead the mixture well to evenly distribute the seasoning. Cover and let sit for an hour (or longer in the fridge) to let the flavors blend.
While the meat is resting, mix together the ingredients for the mayonnaise sauce. (Or, mix together the ingredients for the yogurt sauce.) Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add a tablespoon of olive or vegetable oil, swirling to coat the pan. Add seasoned ground beef into the pan, pressing it to spread across the bottom of the pan, and leave to cook for a minute or two. With a spatula, turn over the ground beef in large sections and leave to cook for another minute or two. Break up the kefta into coarse chunks and continue cooking, stirring constantly, for another two minutes, or until the meat is fully cooked. Drain the liquids and set the kefta aside to cool for 10 minutes.
To Assemble Kefta and Cheese Paninis
Fold the mayonnaise sauce gently into the cooled, drained kefta. Spread the middle of a panini roll or pita round with cheese. Add enough kefta to fill the middle and top with a slice of sandwich cheese and other toppings of your choice. Fold the bread to conceal the filling and repeat until all the sandwiches have been assembled.
Preheat a panini press and cook the sandwiches, in batches, for just a minute or two, until the bread is slightly browned and the filling is heated through. Serve immediately.
To Assemble Kefta and Yogurt Sauce Paninis
Distribute a portion of drained kefta across the middle of a pita round or panini roll. Add lettuce, tomato, onion and other toppings of your choice, and garnish with a generous dollop of yogurt sauce. Fold the bread to conceal the filling, and repeat until all the sandwiches have been assembled.
Preheat a panini press and cook the sandwiches, in batches, for just a minute or two, until the bread is slightly browned and the filling is heated through. Serve warm.