Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lamb Tagine

Well it's a year that's turning out all sorts of accomplishments and New Years Resolutions fulfilled. I joined my new gym and love it, but between my new role at work, spinning 3+ days a week, making time to see not only friends but to enjoy the everyday stuff that comes with keeping up with life, it's a never ending whirlwind. But one of my resolutions was to keep learning something new. I had gently chided myself at the beginning of the year over all my unused and under-appreciated kitchen appliances, namely my tagine, but also my roaster, my popover pans, my lobster pot, all of my canning supplies. And I promised myself that I would use every last one of them at least twice this year. So let's start with the tagine.
It's actually a shocker that I went a whole year without making this because I love lamb tagine. I first fell in love with the dish in Morocco years ago, along with the dramatic serving in the true Moroccan tagine. And  before I even owned a proper tagine apparatus I would make the savory, sweet Moroccan stew in my Le Creuset, slow cooker style. Even if you don't have a tagine, any sort of "tagine" recipe can easily be replicated in a crock pot or a dutch oven. This particular meal is rich and hearty, perfect for the colder months, though there are plenty of other recipes for chicken with olives or preserved lemons that are more suited for a spring or autumn day. But lamb tagine is best in the winter, the outside world buried under a blanket of snow while inside you're warmed by good company and delicious food, that's thick, sweet, savory and spiced just perfectly over a bed of fluffy couscous to cut the richness. This is winter's recipe at it's finest.
The tagine, and the time. Long gone are the days I'd  have dinner on the table by 7pm
Lamb Tagine with Dates and Honey
adapted from Epicurious
1 lb. lamb shoulder, cut in 1" pieces
1 medium onion- sliced thin
1 clove garlic
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. turmeric
Pinch of saffron threads
1/2 c. dates de-seeded and roughly chopped
2 Tbl. honey
3 c. water, chicken or beef stock
1Tbl. white wine
2 Tbl olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. blanched almonds- optional

1. Set tagine pan or dutch oven over a medium high flame and add 1 Tbl. oil. When hot but not smoking gently add in the lamb pieces and sear all sides. You can do this in batches so as not to crowd the pan. Let drain on paper towels after.

2. Add in remaining oil and cook the onions and garlic until translucent. Add in the ginger, turmeric, saffron and cinnamon. Add back in all the lamb plus wine and enough water (or stock) to come up to the side. Cover and let cook for about an hour, checking ever now and then to make sure there's enough liquid. Add in more water or stock if necessary.

3. Uncover and add in honey and dates. Cook for another 30 minutes uncovered until lamb is fork tender and the liquid has thickened. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve over couscous and top with almonds.

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