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Sefrina with Beef
Jewish - Morocco

16+ hrs  
Observant Jews are forbidden many types of work on the Sabbath, and that includes lighting fires and cooking. The work-around is stews set up before sundown the day before and left to cook slowly for as long as 18 hours. Since few people today have a big pile of culinary grade hot ashes around the house, electric slow cookers are now used. Other names and closely related dishes are Adafina (Spain, Maghreb), Hamin, Chamin (Sephardi), Cholent (Eastern Europe), Shalent (Western Europe). This recipe just fits in a 5 quart slow cooker.


Chickpeas dry
Beef & Bones (1)
Eggs, in shell (2)
-- Seasonings
Pepper, black
Ginger, ground
Boiling Water

  1. Soak CHICKPEAS at least 7 hours, drain and rinse.
  2. Cut BEEF into chunks (see Note-1). Bring a big pot of water to a rolling boil, add all the Beef and Bones, bring back to a boil and cook about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse. This will make for a clearer broth.
  3. Peel POTATOES but leave whole.
  4. Slice GARLIC thin.
  5. Load the slow cooker: Beans on the bottom, then Beef followed by Bones, then Potatoes. Arrange EGGS if including them (see Note-2), then all Seasoning items.
  6. Pour Boiling Water over it all, cover and turn the cooker up to high. When it reaches a simmer turn it down to low. Cooking time should be at least 8 hours.
  7. I suppose the prohibition on work would dictate the pot just be set out without further ado - all the parts break up easily with a spoon. Pagans (including Christians), on the other hand, have gods that aren't such control freaks and can serve it up any way they please, while Reform Jews can go either way. Goes well with bread or rice (see Note-3).
  1. Beef:   Use a tough stewing cut preferably with just a little fat shot through it for texture. Weight is for boneless, but some bones is normal in Morocco, and also some extra bones for better stock. Beef is often cut into 1/2 pound pieces, but you can cut them smaller if you like - but not too small or they'll disintegrate.
  2. Eggs:   These are raw eggs in the shell. In Morocco they are added to the stew, but I prefer the Tunisian method where the eggs are separately cooked so I can have as many as I want. They are colored by tea leaves, onion skins, coffee grounds or a combination of these and should still be cooked as long as the stew for color and texture.
  3. Rice:   In Essaouria, homeland of this recipe, rice (for this size recipe 1-1/2 cups) would be partially cooked (10 minutes), stirred with a little oil, salt, pepper and parsley, and spooned into a loosely woven cloth bag. Near serving time the bag of rice would be stuffed into the stew to finish cooking and then be served with the stew.
  4. Leftovers:   Cut the potatoes into smaller chunks, break up the meat a bit, add some tomato sauce, heat and serve as a pasta sauce.
  5. My Method:   Not being Jewish, never mind observant, and generally cooking for an evening event rather than for lunch, I do things differently.
    1. I put bones and off-cuts into the slow cooker the previous evening and cook all night. In the morning I strain out and discard the bones and debris, then defat the stock using a gravy separator. I clean the cooker so it's ready to make the stew.
    2. I start the eggs mixed with tea leaves and/or onion skins and keep at a low simmer until the stew is nearly done.
    3. After parboiling the beef (see main method) I return it to the cleaned pot and add 4 cups of stock (or 1/2 stock and 1/2 water if the stock is quite strong). I bring it to a boil and keep at a high simmer for 10 minutes or more. This cooking gives the slow cooker a head start.
    4. Meanwhile I start the slow cooker heating on high and put in the beans. When the beef is thoroughly heated I pour it and the stock over the beans, then add the potatoes and seasonings. I cook on high until it's bubbling, then turn to low. It should be done in 6 to 8 hours depending on the size and toughness of the beef lumps.
    5. I peel the eggs and put them into the stew pot for the last hour or so.
    6. Finally I stir it up a bit and serve.
  6. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove, in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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