I have come across meat cooked in the Bedouin style mentioned in Rodinson. However I have yet to be able to find any other description other then “cooked in the Bedouin style”. This leaves me with out a compass and to my own devices. This makes a few people I know a little nervous. Never know whats going to show up for dinner on days like this!
Now doing a reverse redaction like this takes a few things into account. A lot of “What if…(s)”. So I’m going to go down this rabbit hole and show you where it took me.
1 oz of Ras el Hanout or Rogan Josh. I adore both of these atraf al-tib spice blends. I did not mix my own blend of these but rather purchased from my local spice merchant store named Savory Spice. Great group of gals there!
The first time I did this recipe, I took the brisket and just rubbed the spice on then stuffed it into the oven on a rack in the oven for 6 hours. Why a rack? Well they hooks for meat under which they would have placed a dessert or another dish with sweet water (Rodinson, pp. 280) to collect the fat for use in another way. Fat was a very important ingredient and not wasted.
The second time I tried this recipe, I pricked the meat all over with a knife. 1/2 inch cuts all over for better depth penetration for the spices.
This is one ounce of spice well rubbed onto a market cut brisket. I then wrapped this in plastic and set aside for 24 hours in the fridge. (The wrapping and setting aside is so not period here. For those who are saying aged meat, I have not seen any recipes for period Middle East cooking where meat was aged. I am thinking it was a bit to hot and meat would rot/maggot infested to fast.)
Now for the oven part. Oven’s were definitly a part of the Middle East cooking experience, just not the Bedouin. The Bedouin’s would use fire pits in which meat was wrapped in leaves and cooked. I had to improvise on what a city person might serve to visiting Bedouin guests (merchants perhaps in town/friends of the family?).
The meat was placed on a rack with a pan that held about an inch of water. This cuts down on the smoke from burning fat. You’ll have to replace the water about ever 2 hours or so to keep spicy fatty smoke from rolling through the house.
I put the fat side up so the fat would melt down and over the meat. I feel this makes the meat both juicier and more tender.
The mention of racks or hooks for meat is mentioned through out many period recipes with two sections devoted to describing pots, pans and how to cook sides of meat or whole animals, Rodinson, pp. 280-286/303-304. I would not suggest placing a sweet pudding underneath this brisket as the rubs are of the savory/spicy sort. I do not believe the Bedouins would have been able to use fat as an in town cook would due lack of oven facilities. That is my belief. Have not seen documentation for a portable oven, yet though!
The meat was cooked for 6 hours at 325.
Definitely well cooked!
And here is the meat sliced into. Moist and ringed with spices cooked into the fat/meat. I did take a bit of the Ras el Hanout and mix with olive oil for a dipping sauce. The taste was awesome! Very worth a try.