Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Tagine for Dummies

I love exotic foods and places and nothing says exotic to me like the culturally rich country of Morocco. Morocco has one of the most diverse culinary cook books of the world. It is defiantly worth picking up a Moroccan cookbook from your local bookstore. So! You can't talk about Moroccan food without talking about the wonderful culinary tool called the Tagine (or Tajine).

What is a tagine? It is a diverse earthenware (or ceramic) pot used to slow cook. It looks like this:

Tagine also refers to the food cooked inside of this dish. This is usually lamb or poultry with fruits, vegetables, and spices. Kind of like a stew. As exotic as it may look, its actually easy to use in a modern American kitchen. You can use them in the oven or, with the assistance of a heat disperser, right on the stove top. Don't limit yourself just to typical tagine fare either. I've used mine to make some tasty home made 'brick oven' pizza, as well as steaming vegetables and more.

So this is one of my favorite recipes for a Tagine of Lamb. Don't be afraid of lamb. And don't worry if you don't have a tagine. A soup pot works fine too. Its really tasty if done correctly. Also, lamb shoulder is a lot cheaper and works great for slow cooking recipes like this. If you hate lamb you can substitute chicken or beef. Also this is a quick cook recipe. Traditional tagine recipes take hours to simmer just as a heads up for future tagine exploring! :)

Tagine (or soup pot)
Large pot


3 pounds lamb shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
4 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, chopped fine
15 peeled garlic cloves, lightly crushed
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 1/4 pounds Yukon gold creamer potatoes (small), halved
1 1/2 pounds medium-sized carrots peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups red wine
7 1/2 cups chicken stock (if using canned use low sodium)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, about 3-inches long
2 cups spring onions, root and stem trimmed
2 tablespoons Italian parsley leaves, chopped fine
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Box of Instant couscous


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Toss the lamb with the rosemary, garlic, oil, and the vinegar and let marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

While the lamb is marinating, blanch the potatoes and carrots. In well-salted boiling water cook the potatoes for 5 or 6 minutes then transfer with a skimmer to a platter or sheet tray. Cook the carrots for 2 or 3 minutes and reserve with the potatoes.

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan on medium-high heat until the oil begins to smoke. While the oil is heating, remove the lamb from the marinade and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the lamb with the flour and toss to coat. Shake excess flour from the meat and add half to the pan in a single layer so as to sear the meat on all sides, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate. Repeat with remaining lamb.

Carefully place the potatoes and carrots in the pan used for the lamb. (The olive oil will have lots of flavor from the lamb.) Season with salt and pepper and saute until lightly caramelized, about 4 minutes. Stir from time to time and regulate the heat so the vegetables do not caramelize too much on one side. Transfer to a platter or large plate so that they can be spread out in a single layer.

Pour off and discard the residual oil in the pan. With the pan still on medium heat, deglaze with the wine and reduce by half then add the stock. Bring to a simmer and reduce again by half. Add the seared lamb to the pan and gently toss to incorporate with the pan sauce. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste.

In a large pot or your tagine, add the lamb, wine and broth mixture and rosemary. Cover then place in the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes.

Add the potatoes, carrots and spring onions to the stew. Mix carefully to incorporate. Add a little stock or water, if necessary, to keep the stew moistened. Continue to cook in the oven, covered, until the meat and vegetables are tender, about 10 more minutes.

At this point you want to cook the couscous according to the directions on the package.

Stir in the parsley and lemon zest. Taste and add salt and fresh ground pepper if needed. Serve directly from the baking dish.

A good Rioja wine has been paired with Lamb Tagine for ages. Very good together. Another recommendation would be a nice Cabernet Sauvignon. This matches well with lamb and is a crowd pleaser.


My Blog said...

Don't limit yourself just to typical tagine fare either.