Kerkenna Island Hotpot

Kerkenna Island lies just off the coast of Tunisia and the local cuisine therefore reflects North African tastes. This stew is a typical one of the region and may be served with plain boiled rice and a tossed green salad.

2 oz. butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ lb. lean stewing beef, cut into

2-inch cubes

1 ½ lb. boned leg of lamb, cut into

2-inch cubes

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 large onions, thinly sliced

1 large green pepper, white pith removed, seeded and thinly sliced

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon ground mixed spice or ground allspice

1 teaspoon salt -½ teaspoon black pepper

1 pint beef stock

2 oz. – cup dried apricots, soaked overnight, drained and chopped

4 oz. dried prunes, soaked overnight, drained, stoned and chopped

2 oz. sultanas or seedless raisins

6 oz. canned chick-peas, drained

4 tablespoons apricot jam

Preheat the oven to warm 325 °F (Gas Mark 3, 170°C).

In a large frying-pan, melt the butter with the oil over moderate heat. When the foam subsides, add the beef and lamb cubes, a few at a time, and cook them, turning occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until they are lightly and evenly browned all over. With a slotted spoon, remove the cubes from the pan and place them in a large, flameproof casserole.

Cook the remaining meat cubes in the same way.

Add the garlic, onions and green pepper to the frying-pan and cook them, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent but not brown. With a slotted spoon transfer the vegetable mixture to the casserole and stir well to blend. Discard the fat in the frying-pan.

Stir the cumin, cayenne, mixed spice or allspice, salt and pepper into the mixture in the casserole. Pour in the beef stock and bring to the boil over moderate heat. Remove the casserole from the heat, cover and place it in the oven. Braise for 1 hour.

Add the apricots, prunes, sultanas or seedless raisins and the chick-peas and stir well to blend. Return the casserole to the oven and continue to braise for a further 1 hour, or until the meat is tender when pierced with the point of a sharp knife.

Remove the casserole from the oven and stir in the jam. Serve at once.