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Did You Know: Food History - The Preserved Lamb Fat of the Arabs

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Winner of the James Beard/ KitchenAid Cookbook of the Year 2000 and Winner of the Beard Award for the Best Writing on Food 2000.
 
 
November 15, 2019
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Mangia Bene

Qawrama is the name of a preserved lamb fat--known as a kind of duhniyāt--a fat or grease used for cooking in Lebanese and Syrian dishes, and the name of a dish of mutton or beef cut into small pieces and braised with lots of onions and tomatoes. The preserved lamb is made by cooking fatty mutton or lamb's tail (usually), but also shoulder meat, with abundant salt and then pouring the browned meat and its fat into preserving jars. The sheep favored by Arab cooks are the fat- tailed species (Ovis aries L. platura), with tails that are very wide and up to two feet long, mostly all fat, that were introduced to the Levant by the Turks. Another domesticated species from Arabia (Ovis aries L. dolichura) was described by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus as having their long, fat, heavy tails carried by little carts. After the preparation is made, a layer of fat solidifies on top. The cook scoops out spoonfuls of it to use in various dishes, including vegetable cookery. Should you feel like giving it a try, grind together equal amounts of lamb fat and boneless lamb shoulder and neck meat. Place this in a stew pot or saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat, adding abundant salt (1 1/2 teaspoons per pound of meat mixture) and a mixture of black pepper and bahārāt, about 1 tablespoon spice mix per pound of mixed meat. Simmer for 6 hours, and then pour off the fat into a container with some of the meat. Freeze for up to 6 months and use for the cooking fat in meat recipes.

 


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