Rick and Elsa’s Moroccan-spiced Lamb Cutlets with Jewelled Couscous, by AOIFE MCELWAIN
Humphrey Bogart is Rick Blaine, an American expat in Casablanca and proprietor of Rick’s Café Américain. One day, of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, his former lover Ilsa (played devastatingly by Ingrid Bergman) walks into his with her husband Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), a Czech Resistance leader on the run from the Nazis. Rick is the only man who can help them get travel papers to escape to freedom in the US, but he doesn’t want to as he hasn’t forgiven Ilsa for abandoning him after their amazing time in Paris. Drama! Directed by Michael Curtiz, Casablanca seems to have been much more the product of the team of writers who worked on it, which included identical twins Julius and Philip Epstein.
This recipe is all about the flavours of Morocco served up for your sweetheart before you sit down to watch cinema’s classic blueprint for romantic dramas. If anyone had stopped to eat between the heartache and Nazi sing-offs at Ricks Café Américain, we bet they would have found these Moroccan-influenced cutlets on the menu. This recipe makes use of the delicious Moroccan flavours of harissa chili paste and the spice mix Ras El Hanout, both of which are available from good specialist stores and most larger supermarkets.
For the lamb
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Ras El Hanout spice mix
Salt and Pepper
6 lamb cutlets, trimmed of fat
For the couscous
250ml hot vegetable stock
1 teaspoon of harissa paste
Juice of half a lemon
Handful of dried apricots
Handful of flaked almonds
Handful of fresh mint
For the spiced yoghurt
2 generous tablespoons of natural yoghurt
Half-a-teaspoon of harissa paste
2 tablespoons of fresh pomegranate seeds
4 small mint leaves
Mix the olive oil and the Ras El Hanout in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the cutlets and slather in the marinade. If you have time, do this in advance and leave in the fridge for a few hours.
Meanwhile, make the couscous, place in a large bowl and cover with the hot stock, mixing immediately with a fork for 30 seconds. Leave to stand about five minutes. Mix again with a fork and leave for another five minutes to absorb the rest of the water if needs be. Add the harissa and the juice of half a lemon, mixing well. Roughly chop the dried apricots and the fresh mint. Once the couscous has cooled, add the apricots, almonds and mint.
Make your spiced yoghurt by mixing the natural yoghurt and harissa paste together.
To cook the cutlets, heat a pan over a medium-to-high heat. Cook the cutlets for three to four minutes on each side, until they have a golden exterior but remain pink and tender on the inside.Cook them for a little longer if you’re not into pink meat but not for more than five minutes on each side.
Serve the couscous in a bowl with the lamb cutlets piled on top. Top with a dollop of yoghurt, a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds and the small mint leaves.
Join Aoife via Twitter (@thetwicket) on St Valentine’s Day at 3pm for the Movie Bites cookalong – and we’ll hold your hand if no one else is Rick and Elsa’s Moroccan-spiced