Jewish Journal


June 25, 2012

Stewing Over the Spanish Inquisition



Adafina: Roulade of Lamb Riblets, Merguez Sausage, Fava Beans, Frigo

The single most incriminating dish of the Spanish Inquisition, Adafina, is the first entry in Gil Marks’ inspiring tome, Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. Reviewing the more than 300 recipes in this incredible book, a few critical facts about Jews become clear. We have been kicked out of almost every continent on the planet at one time or another. We embrace the culture of our current home country. We cook and eat a lot and often. In my opinion, the best way to show the Jew haters of past and present that we are still alive and stronger than ever, is to bring new life to the delicious recipes created by our ancestors. My goal is to cook every recipe in Gil Marks’ brilliant book, with a new approach and an undying respect for everyone who has contributed to Jewish cuisine.     

Adafina is a complicated and layered Sephardic Sabbath stew, which was designed to sustain a large family throughout Shabbat. It brings new meaning to the idea “everything but the Sephardic kitchen sink.” In order to highlight the many components of the stew, I decided it would be better to remove some and cook them on their own. Here is the menu description for my version of Adafina:

Roulade of Lamb Riblets
merguez sausage, lemon-mint fava beans,
lamb-scented frigo and green garlic harissa

Step out of your comfort zone, buy some butcher’s twine and tap into your innate animalistic love of manipulating raw meat. While the full recipe is written below, I would like to expand on a few important steps. Creating a tight bundle of meat is critical to this recipe because the sausage stuffing and rack will cook as one protein. The result is buttery soft lamb rib meat and paté like sausage filling. The rest of the procedure for the stew is classic braising technique. Browning the rib bundles over high heat is another essential detail. “Brown” means let the meat crackle and pop in the pan, without tampering, until the neighbors can smell lamb. Deep dark coloring of the meat is critical to giving the final stew complex layers of flavor. The secret to the frigo is using lamb fat as the cooking lipid, and fortifying the lamb flavor in the grains with roasted trim. Adafina is defined by its layers of ingredients and flavors. Building a background lamb flavor in the frigo makes the final result explode with rich lamb taste.

Adafina was designed to be eaten throughout Shabbat. I have maintained this function of the dish by creating a chilled Adafina wrap or “Adafinurrito” that can be eaten on Saturday afternoon. Simply pureé the vegetables from the stew to create a refried bean like spread. In a large piece of fresh lavash, layer the vegetable pureé and the rest of the leftover ingredients and wrap like a burrito. This is a fantastic indulgence to prepare you for a great Shabbos snooze.

Ferdinand and Isabella failed in their attempt to convert Jews to Catholicism. Miraculously, Jewish life and Judaism are still alive and possibly more vibrant than ever before in its history. Celebrate the Jews of Spain by making a delicious Adafina stew and taste how delicious modern Jewish life can be.

Adafinurrito, made from stew leftovers


Serves 6

6 racks lamb riblets
3 ea lamb sausage, cut in half
1 ea sweet potato, diced
2 ea onion, diced
1 ea quince, diced
5 ea cloves of garlic, minced
24oz chicken broth
1t cumin, ground
1 ea cinnamon stick, whole
12ea medjool dates, pitted and diced
as needed olive oil
tt kosher salt
tt black pepper

1. Cut lamb sausages in half, place one half of the sausage in the wide part of the lamb rack, roll tightly and tie with butcher’s twine. Repeat for all lamb racks.
2. Place a large pan suitable for braising that will accommodate all of the meat and vegetables, over high heat and add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the brasier.
3. Brown lamb bundles over high heat on all sides, until the meat is dark brown.
4. Remove the meat, and remove excess fat that has rendered from the meat. Leave enough fat in the bottom of the pan to cover, and reserve the rest of the fat for the frigo.
5. Add the onions and sweat for 5 minutes.
6. Add the garlic and sweat until aromatic.
7. Add the sweet potato, dates and quince, and sweat for 5 minutes.
8. Add the cumin and cinnamon along with a generous amount of kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Sweat for another 5 minutes stirring continuously.
9. Put the meat back in the brasier along with any juice that may have wept while the meat was resting.
10. Add enough chicken stock to come at least half way up on the meat.
11. Bring to a simmer, and either simmer on the stovetop or in a 350 degree over for approximately 90minutes, or until the meat is fork tender.

Along with other components, another view of the lamb-scented frigo and lemon-mint fava beans.


Serves 6

1 cup frigo
2 cups chicken stock
1 ea onion diced
1 ea lamb shank bone, roasted
1t lamb fat, rendered
tt kosher salt
tt black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. On a cooking sheet, place the lamb shank bone and roast until evenly dark brown.
2. In a medium sized sauce pot over medium heat, add enough rendered lamb fat to cover the bottom of the pan.
3. Add the diced onions and sweat for 5 minutes.
4. Add the frigo and cook with the onions for another 5 minutes stirring continuously.
5. Add the chicken stock along with the shank bone and a generous amount of kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
6. Simmer until the frigo is the consistency of porridge, about 25 minutes.

Raw fava beans, in the pod.

Fava Beans

Serves 6

4oz fava beans, peeled
1t chopped mint
1/4t lemon zest
1t lemon juice
1t olive oil
tt kosher salt
tt black pepper

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.
2. Shuck the fava beans and blanch in boiling water for about 5 minutes.
3. Shock the favas in ice cold water.
4. Peel the outer shell from the beans.
5. Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, mint, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk to make a light vinaigrette.
6. Add the fava beans to the dressing and toss.

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