About every three months we get together with three couples who enjoy fine food and wine for a homemade, gourmet meal of a specific cuisine. We rotate the preparation of each course, appetizer, salad, main dish and dessert. Recently we began stretching our cooking fortes by choosing cuisines out of our cooking comfort zones. At each dinner we continue to raise the bar of excellence! This weekend’s meal theme was Moroccan food and we prepared a Lamb Tagine. From my research I concluded that tagines differ in style and ingredients, especially in the selection of vegetables and fruits. For example, some recipes called for potatoes and peas and others for sweet fruits such as prunes or dates. The recipe below has none of these. If you already cook Indian curries, you will find the steps to prepare this tagine very similar. Below the recipe of my version of our tagine are some preparation tips.
1. Toss 2 lbs of lamb (or chicken) cut into bite-sized cubes with 2 tablespoons of olive oil to coat.
2. I used the spices recommended in the following Lamb Tagine recipe (Allrecipes.com) for the marinade making the following adjustments: I cut the cayenne pepper by half and, instead, added a hot pepper to the sauce and used about 5 cloves of fresh garlic instead of garlic powder. Here’s the marinade link: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Lamb-Tagine/Detail.aspx
Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients. Most are probably in your spice cabinet. I marinated the meat for about six hours.
3. Brown the marinated meat in a heavy bottomed pan. We used our trusty cast iron fry pan.
4. To prepare the sauce the meat will simmer in for 2 hours, I used some of Jamie Oliver’s recommendations from this recipe, http://www.jamieoliver.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=30442. Here’s my version:
In my cast iron dutch oven I sweated the following vegetables for about 15 minutes until they were soft and reduced in bulk by half.
2 cups onions, 1 red onion and 1 Walla Walla sweet onion
10 quartered carrots cut into three inch slices
6 celery sticks chopped thinly
5 garlic gloves
1 T freshly grated ginger
1 small hot chili (or more, or less, to your preference for heat)
5. Add 1 T balsamic vinegar and 1 cup of white wine. Simmer for a few minutes.
2 cans of chopped tomatoes with their juice
Zest of 1 lemon
6 anchovy fillets (Jamie Oliver says these bring out the flavor of the lamb and I agree. You won’t taste the anchovies in the sauce when the meal is cooked).
6. Add the cooked meat, bring to a boil and put in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 2 hours.
7. Serve over couscous and with Moroccan bread (or pita bread).
– I attempted to make Moroccan bread from scratch, but mine turned out like hockey pucks, so, obviously, I need more practice.
– This recipe could easily be made in a slow-cooker. I would skip marinating the meat and add the spices to the meat and sauce. I haven’t tried this yet, but if you do, please leave a comment below.
This tagine was warm without overbearing heat from the chili. Each course of our dinner burst with flavors. We ate interesting appetizers of risotto cakes and chicken wings, a beautiful, colorful salad of roasted vegetables, an amazing fig tart with cardamon cream and nine bottles of fine wines. We enjoyed many laughs and another delightful wine dinner with our friends and we got to eat the leftover tagine which was just as tasty the the next day.
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