Jewish “Buried” Casserole (Lawn Yahoodi Mahshu Madfoon)

Copyright (2023) from A History of the World in 10 Dinners: 2,000 Years, 100 Recipes (Rizzoli)

Lawn Yahoodi Mahshu Madfoon

Serves 6 to 8   This slow-cooked casserole is referred to as “buried” because it was prepared the day before the Sabbath and then buried in the coals and ashes of the fireplace to cook overnight—essential to respecting the Jewish prohibition against working or cooking on Saturday. This recipe will cook in a modern oven in the hour given, but will achieve the same rich, complex, and delicious result as if left in the ashes overnight. You will be unsurprised to learn that meatballs can also be incorporated into this dish. Make one-half-inch meatballs following the recipe on page 188 and include them with the meat.

For the egg layers:

1 cup all-purpose flour 

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons kosher salt

9 large eggs, beaten

Oil for pan

For the meat and garnishes:

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil 

1 large yellow onion, minced

½ bunch cilantro, chopped
(about ½ cup)

3 pounds boneless chuck steak, cut into slices and pounded thin 

1 cup water or low-sodium beef stock

1 tablespoon Murri (page 51)

1 tablespoon ground coriander

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried lavender

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons roughly chopped
mint leaves

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

2 tablespoons toasted pistachios

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

First make the egg layers, which are somewhere between an omelet and a crepe. Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, black pepper, and salt. Slowly whisk in the eggs until smoothly and entirely incorporated.

Select a 2- to 3-quart casserole dish with straight sides. Add a thin layer of oil to the casserole and place over medium-high heat until just shimmering. Add about one-third of the egg mixture to the casserole, making sure it covers the bottom entirely. Cook until firm and bubbles appear on the surface, like a thick pancake, and flip over. Cook until very firm; don’t worry about overcooking. Reserve this egg pancake and repeat the procedure with another one-third of the egg mixture. Remove the casserole from the heat about halfway through the cooking process (after you have turned the second pancake) and let it finish cooking in the hot pan off the heat, then leave it in the pan. This will be the bottom layer.

Add the ¼ cup olive oil to a medium saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cilantro and cook, stirring frequently, until well browned, about 10 minutes. Add the meat, water or stock, murri, coriander, cinnamon, pepper, lavender, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to a simmer and cook for 12 to
15 minutes.

Take the casserole with the egg layer in place in the bottom and add roughly half the meat on top of it in an even layer. Place the other pancake on top and flatten with your hands. Add the rest of the meat on top, along with any cooking liquid. Allow the meat and liquid to settle for about 1 minute, then cover the top with the remaining egg mixture, distributing it evenly.

Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Garnish with the mint leaves, pine nuts, and pistachios and serve.