This traditional Moroccan recipe is often made in the days following Eid Al-Adha, when generous cuts of meat are available even to poor families.
Steamed meat is very tender and tasty – but you have to allow several hours to steam the meat long enough that it becomes buttery and falls off the bone. I use a pressure cooker fitted with a steamer basket, which eliminates the need for cheesecloth and reduces the cooking time by half.
Use shoulder, flank or ribs. If desired, add carrots and potatoes during the second half of cooking for a well-balanced meal.
Also try Steamed Sheep's Head.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
- 4 1/2 lbs. (about 2 kg) large pieces of lamb, trimmed of fat
- 3 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled (optional)
- 1 small bunch parsley and/or cilantro, tied
- 1/2 lb. (about 250 g) small onions, peeled and halved (optional)
- 1/2 lb. (about 250 g) small or baby carrots, peeled and halved (optional)
- 1 lb. (about 1/2 kg) small new potatoes, peeled (optional)
- salt and cumin
In a large pot or pressure cooker that's fitted with a steamer basket, bring a large quantity of salted water to a boil. Be sure the water level is below the bottom of your steamer basket.
Meanwhile, mix the butter with the salt, pepper and saffron. Pierce each piece of meat with a sharp knife in several places and rub the butter mixture over the meat and into the slits.
Pot method. Place the parsley, meat and onions into the steamer and fit onto the pot. To prevent steam from escaping from the sides, use a long piece of plastic wrap to seal the edge the pot where it meets the steamer. (Wrap the plastic around the full circumference of the pot.) Cover the steamer basket with a layer of damp cheesecloth. Close the lid tightly, and steam the meat for 1 1/2 hours without peeking. Add the potatoes and carrots, cover tightly again, and continue steaming for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the meat can be pulled easily from the bone and the vegetables are tender.
Pressure cooker method. Place the parsley, meat and onions into the steamer and fit onto the pressure cooker. Close the lid tightly, and cook with pressure over medium heat for 1 hour. Add the potatoes and carrots, cover tightly again, and continue steaming for another 30 to 45 minutes, or until the meat can be pulled easily from the bone and the vegetables are tender.
Serve the lamb with the onions, potatoes and carrots on a large platter with small dishes of salt and cumin for dipping the meat and vegetables.