Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Another Tagine, sort of

I do so hate to be repetitive, but my last tagine post really doesn't count as it a) didn't include a recipe, just a link; b)was more for the February Gourmet, unbound roundup than my usual readers; and c) tagines are delicious so why not try more than one. This dish is a Moroccan tagine-style lamb stew which is pretty quick to prepare and if you've ever made the infamous Chicken Marbella you'll feel instantly familiar with some of the ingredients.

This looks like a long ingredient list, but much of it is spices. Once you measure and mix the spices, this is not too complicated. This might not be Rachael Ray speed but it should come in under an hour.

I've been buying my grass-fed lamb right from the Jamison Farm booth at the Bethesda Central Farm Market. So if you're local you can do that too. They have been coming all winter to the winter location on Bethesda Lane on Sunday mornings. I purchased this last batch when it was about 18 degrees out. I have also seen grass-fed local lamb recently at Whole Foods. Grass fed is less fatty than commercial, and the flavor is a little subtler with less of the oily note that some lamb takes on.

This recipe is also pretty flexible. Don't think twice about the raz el hanout if you don't have it. Some of the flavors are already covered in the spice mix. You can add a can of rinsed garbanzo beans towards the end of the simmering if you'd like, or, as I did the last time I made this (and which you can see in the photo), add a few handfuls of cut up butternut or acorn squash in when you return the lamb to the pan. And don't worry about those people in your family who don't like olives - just have them quietly push them to the side of their plate like my family does. The olive lovers can scavenge at will.

I like to serve this with couscous as it soaks up the sauce nicely. I use whole wheat couscous, as we don't notice any taste difference from the regular. To make couscous easily and mostly clump-free, put one cup dry couscous in a medium-sized microwave safe bowl. Add a pinch or two of salt and mix gently with a fork. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and mix again with fork to distribute the oil and coat the grains. Add 1-1/4 cups water to bowl and mix gently but thoroughly with fork. Let sit on counter for 10 minutes or so, mixing occasionally with fork until the water is mostly absorbed. Cover bowl with plastic wrap (make sure the level of couscous is well below the top of the bowl so that the plastic is not touching the food) and microwave for 2 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve. This method also saves cleaning a pot!

Quick Moroccan Style Lamb

(serves 4 - 6, depending on appetite)

2 - 2 1/2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder or boneless leg of lamb, trimmed of fat and cut into bite-sized pieces (at the Jamison stand I try to buy the lamb they call "kabob" - it's already cubed shoulder meat)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1-1/2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon raz el hanout spice mix (optional)

2 - 3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups homemade or low or no sodium chicken stock

1 cup pitted "bite sized" dried plums (prunes), or if regular sized then halved

1/2 cup Spanish green olives, pitted

2 teaspoons lemon zest (if you have preserved lemon you can use the skin of 1/2, rinsed and minced)

2 -3 teaspoons chopped parsley

1. Combine the salt, pepper and other spices in a large bowl. Add the lamb pieces and toss to coat.

2. Heat a large saute pan or a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the oil and brown the lamb chunks, in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding pan, browning on all sides. Remove the lamb chunks from the pan as they cook. Remove some of the fat from the pan if a lot has rendered. Leave only a light coating.

3. Lower heat to medium and cook the onion and garlic until onion is softened and translucent, about 4 or 5 minutes.

4. Add stock to the pan and scrape up any browned bits from bottom of pan.

5. Return lamb to pan along with any juices, and add prunes, olives and zest (and squash if using).

6. Raise heat and bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer on low or medium-low, covered part way, for about 30 minutes. If adding garbanzo beans, then add them after about 20 minutes of simmering. If mixture seems dry at any point, add a half cup of water or stock.

7. Taste for salt and pepper, garnish with parsley and serve with whole wheat couscous.


  1. Hi Wendy! I just tried your recipe tonight (substituting chicken for lamb), and it was wonderful. Thank you so much for your amazing recipes. They have made my family so happy (and healthy). Anna (Liz's friend). xo

  2. Anna - I'm so glad you tried it (and liked it)!! I'll have to try it with chicken - did you use boneless?

  3. Yes, just chopped up a couple of pounds of chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces, and it worked great. My husband loves lamb, but not my daughter so much. The flavors are so great with the olives and prunes, and I even added the butternut squash (awesome) and garbanzo beans. And it was all so simple! Have you ever tried Kat Cora's Cinnamon Chicken? I use chicken breasts with this recipe, too, and it's tasty and nutritious:

  4. I will give that a try, Anna, thanks!