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Moroccan Stew

This recipe for Moroccan stew took less than 45 minutes to prepare; even on a Friday evening after a full day at the office. I served it with couscous (the 10-ounce box of Near East).

I cooked the couscous according to the directions on the box but I added half a dozen whole peppercorns, a 1-inch cinnamon stick, a bay leaf and a pinch of salt and a pinch of saffron threads to the water before it boiled.

A Starling Castle Riesling from Mosel, Germany was a great complement. With a bright golden hue and a nose of citrus and pear, it had a slightly sweet fruit flavor and a crisp elegant finish. It was perfect with the spiciness of the stew.

2 teaspoons cumin seeds
12 whole cloves
1 inch cinnamon stick 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 ¼ pounds, top sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups sliced onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces peeled baby carrots, sliced
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
2 ½ cups beef broth
½ cup dried apricots, chopped
½ cup chopped fresh mint, divided

Heat cumin seeds, cloves and cinnamon stick in a dry skillet until toasted. Let cool and buzz in a spice grinder or grind with a mortar and pestle. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large enameled cast iron skillet over high heat. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Add beef to skillet and sauté until cooked to desired doneness, about 2 minutes for medium-rare. Using slotted spoon, transfer beef to bowl.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Add carrots and ¼ cup water. Let water evaporate then add onions. Sauté onions until golden, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds but do not let burn.

Add all spices; stir 30 seconds. Sprinkle flour over; stir 30 seconds. Stir in broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until carrots are just tender, about 8 minutes. Return beef to skillet, add apricots and cook until sauce thickens slightly, about 1 minute.

Season stew to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in ¼ cup chopped mint. Transfer stew to bowls. Sprinkle with remaining chopped mint and serve.