Photo: Le Creuset on Amazon.com
Transport yourself to Morocco by making this fragrant and inviting lamb tagine! Essential to North African cuisine, “tagine” actually has two meanings – first, it refers to a type of cookware, and second, a rich and savory stew. The cookware, oftentimes made of clay or ceramic, has a cone-shaped top that sits on a wide base. The stew ingredients are slow cooked in this pot, with the moisture rising and collecting at the top of the cone and then circulating back down to the base. If a traditional tagine pot is not available, a Dutch oven or similar pot with a tight-fitting lid will do the trick.
To create that magical flavor, tagines contain comforting, warm spices complimented by a touch of dried fruit essence, as is the case in this recipe. Plan ahead to allow the lamb cubes to dry marinate in the seasoning blend for 30 – 60 minutes. Serve the stew over cooked cous cous or brown rice.
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp ground ginger
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 – ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
3 pounds leg of lamb, cut into bite-sized cubes
4 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 ½ tablespoons)
1 large carrot, diced
½ bell pepper, any color, seeds removed, diced
1 cup diced tomatoes with juice
2 cups chicken stock (added in small amounts)
1 Tbsp honey
1 bay leaf
½ cup white raisins or diced dried apricots
1 medium sweet potato or parsnip, peeled, diced
cooked cous cous or brown rice for serving
chopped fresh parsley for garnish
- In a small bowl, mix together the cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, ground ginger, cayenne, salt and pepper. In a large mixing bowl, place the lamb cubes and sprinkle half of the seasoning mixture over top; mix well to coat. Cover bowl and refrigerate for 30 – 60 minutes. Set remaining seasoning mixture aside for later use.
- In a large Dutch oven or tagine, heat oil over medium heat. Add the lamb and brown on all sides. Transfer lamb to a bowl and set aside. Add onions, garlic, carrots and bell pepper to the Dutch oven or tagine. Sauté for approximately 5 minutes, until the vegetables are starting to soften and brown. Return the lamb to the pan, along with the remaining spice mixture; gently stir to combine and sauté for an additional 1 minute.
- Add the tomatoes, about half of the stock (enough to come up about ½ way on meat), the honey and bay leaf. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to a low boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and gently simmer for 1 ½ hours. Add additional stock as needed during the simmering time to keep meat partially covered.
- At the end of 1 ½ hours, add the raisins or apricots, sweet potato or parsnip, and more stock if needed. Cover and continue to simmer for an additional 30 minutes, until lamb and potatoes are fork tender.
- Serve immediately over cooked couscous or brown rice and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.
Tagine is a wonderful make-ahead dish.
- Prepare the tagine as directed, cool completely, transfer to a tightly covered storage container, then refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.
- When ready to heat and serve – thaw, if frozen, and bring to room temperature, transfer to a stove top sauce pan, add a bit more stock if needed to bring to the desired consistency. Simmer gently over medium to medium-low heat until fully heated, about 8 – 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve.
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