a cookbook by souad sharabani

Sweet-and-Sour Apricot Stew

For my boyfriend’s birthday—we were in graduate school together—I wanted to make something special to impress him, but I was very nervous about feeding a fruit-and-meat dish to a meat-and-potatoes guy from Alberta. When Bernie first saw the dish, a look of panic crossed his face. He was polite enough not to say anything, but he didn't have to—his facial expression said it all. To calm him down, I told him, “Just try the dish. If you hate it, we can order Chinese.” Putting the first bite into his mouth, it was as if it were a spoonful of cod liver oil. But he loved it. Bernie is now my husband and, since then, I have always made this dish for his birthday. I must confess that he is the greatest fan of my cooking. And he has almost forgotten the meat-and-potatoes dishes he grew up on.

I serve this stew with red or white rice and a salad. It’s a filling dish because of the apricots.

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Recipe

Serves 6

Variation: Meatballs

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over low heat. Sauté the onion in the oil until light golden.
  2. Add the tomatoes, celery, green pepper, green onions and parsley; cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Increase the heat to medium, add the meat and sauté for 7 to 10 minutes. (If preparing the meatball variation below, add the meatballs at this point.)
  4. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring well to mix.
  5. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, partially covered, until the meat is tender and cooked through and the sauce is slightly thickened and very flavourful. Halfway through cooking, taste the sauce; it should be sweet and sour. If it is too sweet, add more lemon juice; if it is too sour, add sugar, a little at a time. If the sauce is too thick, add a little water.

Variation

Make as directed, but instead of sautéing chunks of beef or chicken in Step 3, use meatballs.

  1. In a bowl, combine the meatball ingredients.
  2. Place the meatball mixture and another bowl filled with cold water next to the stove.
  3. Using the palms of your hands moistened with the cold water, shape the mixture into balls the size of walnuts, dropping them one by one into the onion-tomato mixture as they are formed.
  4. Once the meatballs are partially cooked, continue with Step 4 above.

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