In most Moroccan homes, spleen (tihane in Moroccan Arabic, rate in French) is not served as frequently as other organ meats such as liver or heart. Nonetheless, it’s readily available at grillade-style restaurants and butcher shops, where offal lovers are delighted to order a slice or two of stuffed spleen and have it warmed on the grill or pan.
If you’re visiting Morocco and want to try it, be on the lookout for it as a street food offered by grills which are set up next to butcher shops. A likely place to find it would be the old Medina of Fez. The stuffed spleen looks like a very large sausage—the spleen serves as the casing—and it’s served sliced in the same manner as meatloaf.
Stuffed spleen also works its way into some families’ culinary repertoires as a once-in-a-while dish to offer to those who appreciate it. In particular, stuffed spleen might be on the menu during the days of Eid Al-Adha, when families prepare a host of dishes which make full use of organ meats and variety meats of all kinds.
The recipe here is a family recipe from Nada Kiffa of Fleur d’Oranger, Masala and Co. It involves stuffing veal or beef spleen with a well-seasoned kefta and rice mixture and adding hard-boiled eggs added as garnish. How to Make Moroccan Stuffed Spleen shows the process. Once cooked, the stuffed spleen can be sliced and then frozen, allowing for individual portions to be reheated as desired.
You can vary the filling by replacing some of the ground meat with chopped liver and heart. You can also use sheep spleen, although in that case you’ll need several spleens or will need to adjust the quantity of filling accordingly.
Moroccan Stuffed Spleen Recipe - Tihane or La Rate Farcie
- 1 veal or beef spleen (tihane), trimmed of fat
- 18 oz. finely ground beef or lamb (or a mixture of the two)
- 8 oz. suet (chehma), finely chopped
- 1 to 1.5 cups cooked rice
- 1/2 cup pitted green olives, chopped
- 1 or 2 preserved lemons, flesh only, seeded and chopped
- 1 medium onion, grated
- 1 head garlic, cloves peeled and pressed
- 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tbsp tomato paste or red pepper paste or <a href="https://tasteofmaroc.com/harissa-dried-chili-pepper-paste/"harissa
- 4 tsp ground cumin
- 4 tsp ground paprika
- 1.5 tsp salt, or to taste
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
Make the Filling
- The filling may be prepared up to a day in advance. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef or lamb, chopped suet, rice, olives, preserved lemon, onion, garlic chopped herbs, beaten eggs, tomato paste and seasoning. Knead the mixture by hand for several minutes to ensure that everything is evenly blended. If you aren't ready to use the filling, cover and refrigerate it until needed.
Clean the Spleen
- It's best to work with the spleen the same day that you acquire it. Trim it of its fat, but do try to leave the white membrane as it will help hold the spleen intact once it has been stuffed. Wash the spleen and pat it dry. Be sure handle it gently, as raw spleen is quite fragile.
Stuff the Spleen
- Place the cleaned spleen on a large tray or cutting board. At one end of the spleen, along the middle of its side, make a slit large enough to accommodate your hand. Cover your hand with a disposable cooking glove or plastic bag, then insert your hand. Gradually work your hand in deeper toward the opposite end to make a cavity that runs the length of the spleen. The spleen's flesh is delicate and will give way easily (the incision you made will stretch open a bit as you work), but take care not to tear through the wall of the spleen.
- Bit by bit, insert handfuls of the filling into the cavity you created. Use your hands to squeeze and direct the filling to the very end of the spleen.
- Use as much filling as you can; the spleen should be quite plump. (Note: If you have leftover filling, shape it into small patties and pan-fry. The patties can be served separately or alongside the spleen as garnish.)
- Add the hard-boiled eggs to the middle of the filling, centering and spacing them as evenly as possible.
Sew the Spleen Shut
- Close the opening with loose basting stitches, then mold and shape the filling throughout the spleen to create an evenly rounded, cylinder-like shape. Press the filling gently away from the seam, and then sew the spleen shut a second time with smaller stitches which are spaced closer together. Transfer the spleen to a large baking pan lined with parchment paper.
Bake the Stuffed Spleen
- Preheat your oven to 400° F (200° C). Place the tray in the preheated oven and bake the spleen, uncovered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until well-browned and almost no juices are released when the spleen is poked with a skewer or toothpick. During the roasting, rotate the pan halfway through for even coloring, and baste once or twice with the juices that collect in the pan. If no juices collect, you can release some by poking the stuffed spleen in several places along its length.
Serve the Stuffed Spleen
- Allow the spleen to cool briefly before slicing and serving. The fully cooled stuffed spleen can be refrigerated for several days or frozen for up to two months. Slicing it before freezing will allow you to take individual servings as needed.
- Reheat slices of the stuffed spleen in a grill basket over charcoal, in a lightly oiled frying pan over medium heat, or wrapped tightly in foil in the oven.