Known as khelea, this Moroccan preserved meat is a lovingly produced, hand-crafted, slow-motion product of the North African kitchen and can be made with either lamb or beef. It is used to flavor stews, lentils, beans, couscous, soups, and even scrambled eggs. Moroccans also add it to their famous onion-spice jam confection, mezguélâi, which is served on top of couscous, or as a substitute for meat in Swiss Chard with Lentils and Preserved Spiced Meat.
The cook carefully salts chunks of meat to add flavor and extract moisture, seasons the meat with various spices and herbs, then allows it to dry on the bone. (In Morocco, I have actually seen meat hanging on a clothesline to dry!) After drying, the meat is simmered in olive oil, then packed in crocks with oil and lamb or beef fat to cover, much like French confit. To serve khelea, remove from the oil and soak in water to remove salt and restore softness. Use as directed in the recipe.
The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen by Paula Wolfert. Copyright © 2003 by Paula Wolfert. Photographs copyright © by Christopher Hirsheimer. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.