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Let’s say you were on a mission to uncover the best places in Portland for breakfast. Would you a) Google it; b) head to The Pearl; or c) hire a brunch sherpa? While Google may result in an array of choices and The Pearl may suffice, the correct answer is C. Why? Because hiring a brunch sherpa […]
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Harissa Lamb, Cucumber, Carrot and Chickpea Hash

Fresh on the heels of an Indian and Oaxacan hashcapade, it only seems fitting that the equally exotic cuisine of North Africa – Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco – be my next target. And, just as India has curry and Oaxaca has mole, North Africa boasts a signature ingredient, harissa. Put another way, harissa is to North Africa as salsa is to Mexico. Its pepper, garlic, coriander, chili powder and other spices amp up any dish considerably.

Layered Harissa Lamb, Carrot, Cucumber and Chickpea Hash

My starting point was going to involve harissa, potato, chicken and okra, but as I looked at different recipes, it became clear that I had to go with lamb and ditch the okra in favor of chickpeas. I also thought the food ring needed a different treatment, but what?

Lots of veggies await this North African-inspired hash
OK – this will be a bit of a tangent. I absolutely loved There Will be Blood!. Have you seen it? Well, I saw it again while celebrating Easter in Wyoming. Daniel Day Lewis is amazing in his role as a manic, independent, hard-driving oilman. Besides cunning ruthlessness, the art of oil discovery and production is in the geology – understanding the strata or layers surrounding a reservoir. Wait…layers?…eureka! Yes, a layered, food ring-based hash! (And you thought I was going to talk about milkshakes!)
Chickpeas, red onion, garlic and ginger await roasting.
Lamb loin chops – like little lamb T-bones!

Anyway, with the layer concept established, I set about grilling lamb loin chops, which the butcher characterized as little lamb T-bones. Secretly, his apt description made me giggle when I threw them on the grill – soooo tiny and cute! Next steps were roasting the chickpeas, making a shredded carrot, feta and mint salad with harissa and mixing some diced cucumbers with Greek yogurt. For the plating sauce, I used harissa and the Greek yogurt – naturally!

Harissa carrot feta and mint salad
Macro shot of Layered Harrisa Lamb Hash

This hashcapade was wicked tasty, full of exotic flavors, thanks to the harissa. Succulent lamb, crunchy cucumbers and carrots paired with the roasted chickpeas created a fabulous texture. I couldn’t stop eating and literally inhaling the hash! Contemplating the cornucopia of veggies, it occurred to me that you could leave off the lamb and still walk away with a food coma! Oh, and don’t forget your milkshake!

Happy Hashcapades,
Layered Harissa Lamb, Cucumber, Carott and Chickpea Hash
Before you go ga-ga over the harissa, preheat the oven to 425 degrees and get the grill going!
Roasted Chickpeas
1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped 
> Mix all of the above in a small baking dish and roast at 425 for 15 minutes, remove, stir and set aside.
Lamb Loin Chops
3 lamb loin chops (other favorite cuts will work to), about 6 oz net
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
> Rub garlic and ginger on both sides of the three chops, then grind fresh salt and pepper
> Grill for about 6 minutes a side, medium rare for 1 1/4 inch chops
> Wait until plating to cut the lamb to maximize the juicy flavor
Carrot Salad with Harissa, Feta and Mint (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp harissa (Whole Foods is my source)
1 tsp sugar
juice from 1/2 a small to medium lemon 
1 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
1/3 cup feta cheese
> Mix all the above in a bowl, check for taste – if too acidic, add more sugar; if not enough heat, add more harissa, Set aside for plating

Cucumber & Yogurt
1/2  cup english cucumber, 1/4 inch dice
1 Tbsp Greek yogurt
> Mix in small ramekin and set aside until plating

2 Tbsp Greek yogurt
1 tsp harissa
1-2 small mint leaves
> Mix above and spoon almost all on the plate in a circle bigger that the food ring
> Using a 4″ diameter, 2″ high food ring, carefully pack one layer of the chickpeas, then an equal thickness of carrot, then an equal layer of cucumber.
> Slice the lamb into 1 inch by 1 1/2 inch rectangles and overlap in a circle, filling the middle with the rest
> Spoon the rest of the harissa/yogurt plating sauce, top with a scant spoon of harissa and garnish with mint

NOTE: Makes 1 serving with my 2 inch high, 4 inch diameter food ring. You will have leftover carrot salad and chickpeas – combine for a leftover salad snack!

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