Lamb Tagine

The “tagine” is an earthenware with a conical lid used to cook the stew of the same name. The tagine stew is a complex yet balanced sweet and savory one-pot dish from North Africa that would impress any guest.

The following recipe is courtesy of the NY Times. The sweetness in this recipe is from dried apricots, onions, both cinnamon sticks and ground cinnamon, and nutmeg while the savory side is contributed by the lamb, stock, tomato paste, turmeric, ginger, and black pepper. The whole stew is brightened up by fresh cilantro and lemon juice.

INGREDIENTS
  • 3 pounds bone-in lamb stew meat or lamb neck, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
  • 1 3/4 cups lamb or chicken stock
  • 5 ounces (1 cup) dried apricots
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 small cinnamon sticks
  • Large pinch saffron
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Fresh lemon juice, to taste
PREPARATION
  1. 1. In a large bowl, combine lamb and 2 teaspoons salt. Let sit at room temperature at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
  2. 2. In a small pot, bring stock to a boil. Remove from heat, add apricots, and let sit at least 15 minutes.
  3. 3. Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a tagine, Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot with a tightfitting lid, warm 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat until hot. Working in batches, add lamb to pot, leaving room around each piece (this will help them brown). Cook until well browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer pieces to a plate as they brown.
  4. 4. Drain fat, if necessary, leaving just enough to coat the bottom of the pot. Add onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Add tomato paste, ginger, 1 cinnamon stick and the spices, and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add lamb and any juices on the plate, the apricots and stock, and half the cilantro. Cover pot with foil and then its lid, and cook in oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until lamb is tender, turning it occasionally. (If using a tagine, you don’t need to use foil.) Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
  5. 5. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat butter and 1 cinnamon stick over medium heat. Add almonds and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick.
  6. 6. To serve, transfer lamb and juices to a serving platter. Top with toasted almonds and any butter left in the small skillet, scallions, parsley and remaining cilantro. Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice to taste. Serve with flatbread or couscous, if desired.

Recipe image and text from The NY Times.

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