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Flavorful, richly-spiced cuisine paired with the intricately patterned, lantern-lit backdrop of Morocco proved just the inspiration we needed to revamp the standard summer barbecue. This three-part series provides planning inspiration and how-tos for executing your own Moroccan-style outdoor evening.
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Don’t miss the first two installations in our Summer Entertaining series:
PART III: FEAST
Chef Dana Murrell of Green Chef, a Boulder-based organic meal kit delivery service, puts the savory-sweet, “best of the best” spice blend ras el hanout (which we learned about in Part II) to work in her recipe for Moroccan steak with preserved lemon relish. I work with Murrell at Green Chef, and have had the opportunity to try her dish (it’s also a customer favorite). The entrée is perfect for company because it delivers bold, unexpected flavors with minimal effort.
MOROCCAN STEAK WITH PRESERVED LEMON RELISH
About 18 ounces sirloin steak
1 tablespoon ras el hanout seasoning*
1–2 tablespoons olive oil
1 preserved lemon
1 large shallot
scant 1/2 bunch fresh parsley
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
(*Murrell makes her own blend, but we simplify by using a pre-made version from Savory Spice Shop.)
Place steak in small bowl and rub on both sides with ras el hanout spice and olive oil. Rest to marinate while making preserved lemon relish (below). Turn oven to high broil. Place marinated steak on baking sheet and broil 8 to 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Allow steak to rest about 2 minutes before thinly slicing.
Preserved lemon relish: Remove fruit from preserved lemon and discard. Finely chop remaining preserved rind. Peel and finely chop shallot. Destem parsley, discard stem, and roughly chop leaves. Combine parsley, shallots, and lemon in bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Cut fresh lemon in half and squeeze juice over relish, avoiding seeds.
Serve sliced steak topped with preserved lemon relish.
END THE MEAL
To complete the evening, we spoke to tea connoisseur Lisa Brio, owner-operator of Capital Tea, about Moroccan mint tea. Brio not only shares brewing tips but tells her own Moroccan tea experience in Marrakesh:
“When I went to Morocco a few years ago, we took a long car ride from Casablanca to Marrakesh. The desert landscape in Morocco is dry and hot, and I was tired and parched by the time we reached Marrakesh. Arriving at our hotel, I asked if I could please have some tea. We barely had time to sit down when a young man came into the courtyard and placed a brass tray with our tea on the table in front of us. He proceeded to raise the teapot high above the tray and pour expertly and accurately a steady stream of golden tea into our glasses (not cups). The tea was foamy at the surface and steaming hot. We tasted the tea and realized that it was mint and extremely sweet. My preference is usually for black tea and I was hesitant to drink something that was clearly different from what I expected. But in a moment, I changed my mind. The mint tea was refreshing, sweet, and uplifting at the same time. In that cup of tea I found a treasure of cultural tradition and practical necessity. In a desert climate, hot tea triggers the body’s cooling reflex. For tradition, a man pours the tea. It should be poured three times and it is quite strong. Serve tea that is weak in Morocco and they will say: C’est pour les touristes! (It’s for tourists!).”
Brewing tips: Although Brio informs us that in Morocco the tea is twice brewed—first, green tea is briefly brewed, the water poured off, spearmint leaves are added, and then a fresh round of boiling water is poured over and the tea is finally steeped for a few minutes—she recommends a simplified version for the average tea drinker. Dried Moroccan mint tea usually combines green tea with dried spearmint leaves, allowing you to steep once. Brio says to steep tea in 180-degree water (less than boiling) for 3 to 4 minutes. As Moroccan tea should be sweet, she suggests 2 teaspoons of sugar (or more) per cup.
Bonus: Round out your dinner with brightly hued Moroccan vegetable salads, like this carrot version from Food & Wine. For an easy and refreshing Moroccan dessert, try sliced oranges sprinkled with cinnamon (pictured), in addition to tea.