1 cup soft white or hard red wheat berries or spelt grains
4 cups water
6 cups water
2 ½ pounds lamb shank, neck bones or lamb chops
8 tablespoons sweet red pepper, chopped
4+ teaspoons harissa
5 ½ tablespoons butter, divided into 1 ½ tablespoons and 4 tablespoons
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 large onion, minced
4 tablespoons unsweeted plain yogurt
4 small tomatoes, peeled and sliced horizontally just before plating
Place wheat in a strainer and rinse.
Place 4 cups of cold water in a bowl. Add wheat.
Cover bowl. Soak the wheat 8 hours or overnight.
Place lamb in a stockpot in enough water to cover. Bring water to a boil.
Reduce heat, skim off any scum that rises to the top.
Simmer lamb for 40 minutes or until tender.
Drain lamb, returning stock to stock pot.
Allow meat to cool.
Strip meat from bone. Remove any sheathing, gristle or fat. Return that and the bone to the stockpot.
Chill the meat.
Cover and simmer stock for 6 hours.
Strain stock, cool and chill approximately 1 hour.
Discard any fat that has floated to the top of the stock while it was chilling.
Drain soaked wheat through a sieve. Rinse.
Measure stock. Place stock in a tall saucepan.
Reduce, by boiling or adding water as required, to equal 4 ½ cups of liquid.
Add wheat to reduced stock.
Bring stock to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Simmer over medium heat until tender, approximately 1 1/2 hours. Stir every 20 minutes. Do not allow the berries to go dry. Add water if necessary.
Chef’s Note: The wheat is finished when it swells to about 4x its original size and starts to dissolve. The cooking time is affected by the dryness of the wheat. If needed, cook longer to attain the right texture.
Mash three quarters of the mixture and add back to the remaining quarter of the berries.
Chef’s Note: The texture should be soft, creamy, with some lumps. The texture is somewhat reminiscent of cooked steel cut oatmeal. It should not be a paste.
Taste wheat and add salt and pepper to taste.
Melt 4 tablespoons butter and add cinnamon. Mix into wheat.
Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons butter and onions. Saute onions until soft and a light gold. Add to wheat.
Slice chilled meat. Heat in the frying pan that was used to saute onions.
In a separate bowl, add the harissa by increments to the sweet red bell pepper to taste.
Arrange three tomato slices in a circle on each plate.
Place ¾ cup wheat mixture in the center of the tomato slices.
Spoon 2 tablespoons of the sweet red bell pepper/harrisa combination on top of the wheat.
Place a serving of the lamb on top of the sweet red bell pepper/harrisa combination.
Place a dollop of yogurt on top of the lamb.
Top with a small dab of the red bell pepper/harissa combination on top of the yogurt.
Chef’s Note: Keskek is often served with Ayran. The hotter the harissa, the more the patron may appreciate the Ayran.