North African Meat Stew (Dafina)
Sure there are slow cookers, but what about a slow cooker meal that serves up three courses and doesn't even require a crockpot? Way more impressive. This meat stew is the work of brilliant Jewish women who needed to serve a hot meal on the Sabbath without lighting a fire. It is from Gloria Kaufer Green's The Jewish Holiday Cookbook.
There are probably many more ways to serve this, but the traditional way is to eat the eggs and potatoes together, possibly for breakfast, the rice and meat together as a second course, and then the beans and broth as a soup. I served it once after church on a Sunday with a green salad, and I was impressed even if no one else was. Next time I make this I think I will use it for three full meals: toast with eggs and potatoes for breakfast (if I include the rice next time, otherwise I'll save the potatoes for the meat), tacos with the meat and rice (and avocado, lime, etc.) for lunch, and finally I'll serve the bean soup with a salad for dinner.
You can make this either in the oven or in a slow cooker. I left out the rice this time because I couldn't find my cheesecloth stash, so I'm sorry it's missing in all the pictures. Use your imagination. Because the chickpeas have to soak, you need to start this recipe early- so for a Sunday afternoon meal, soak the chickpeas from Saturday morning or even Friday night. I let mine soak for 24 hours sometimes out of sheer laziness.
1-1/2 cups dry chick peas
2-1/2 pounds chuck roast cut into 4-6 large pieces
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1 cup rice
6-8 small new potatoes
about 7 cups water
1. Soak the chickpeas in a bowl with water to cover by at least 2 inches. Leave it for 8-24 hours. Drain before using.
2. In the bottom of a large slow cooker or a big Dutch oven, spread the soaked and drained chickpeas. Layer the meat on top of the chickpeas. Scatter the onions, garlic, dates, and spices (cinnamon through pepper) around the meat. Cut a big square of cheesecloth from a double thickness and tie the corners together to form a bag around the rice. Make sure there is plenty of room in the bag since the rice will swell to 2 or 3 times the original size. Put the bag in the center on top of the meat, and surround it with alternating eggs and potatoes. Add enough water so that everything is almost covered, but be sure there is at least 1 inch of headroom at the top of the pot.
3. If you're doing this in a Dutch oven, bring the dafina to a boil over medium heat, cover it tightly, and put it in a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake it for one hour, then lower the temperature to 225-250 degrees and bake it for another 12-20 hours. Don't stir the dafina while it's cooking. If you are cooking this in a slow cooker, put it on hight heat for 1 hour, and then turn the heat to low and cook it overnight.
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