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April 08, 2009
This morning, when I looked out the window and saw snow, I thought of this tagine. If anything could whisk away the dismay of seeing snow falling on daffodils, I thought for sure a tagine of lamb with tomatoes, onions, plump dried apricots, toasted almonds and bold spices could. And I was right.
A tagine is one of those dishes, like couscous, where you can get a little caught up in the nomenclature. With couscous, the word refers to both the pasta that's called couscous and the classic dish that contains couscous. With tagine, the word refers to the finished dish as well as to the pot in which it's cooked.
You don't need a tagine (the pot) to make this tagine (the recipe), but tagines are so beautiful
that if you don't have one, you might want to put it on your wish list (good ones are not
inexpensive). Happily, you can easily make this dish in a Dutch oven or high-sided skillet.
Tagines are primarily a Moroccan dish and, like so many dishes from this country, the fragrance of the spices as they cook is dizzying -- wonderfully, delightfully and intoxicatingly so.
I don't think there's very much that's authentic in this recipe, which was given to me by a friend-of-a friend in France, Francoise Maloberti, but never mind -- the pleasure you'll get from it is plenty authentic.
LAMB TAGINE WITH APRICOTS AND ALMONDS
Makes 4 servings
2 chicken bouillon cubes or 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/4 pound moist, plump dried apricots
About 6 tablespoons olive oil
About 1 3/4 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, fat removed, cut into cubes about 1 1/2 inches on a side
4 medium onions, peeled, trimmed and coarsely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled, trimmed, germ removed and finely chopped
One 14 1/2 - ounce can diced tomatoes, drained, or 4 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and crushed
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, cracked (I do this in my mortar and pestle)
2 pinches saffron
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
About 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Couscous or rice, for serving
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
If you're using the bouillon cubes (it's what Francoise uses), drop them into a medium-size bowl and pour over 1 3/4 cups of boiling water; stir to dissolve. If you're using chicken broth, bring it to the boil, then pour it into the bowl. Add the apricots to the bowl and let them soak and plump while you prepare the rest of the tagine.
Put the base of a tagine, a heavy, high-sided skillet or a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and pour in 3 tablespoons of the oil. Pat the pieces of lamb dry between sheets of paper towels, then drop them into the hot oil - don't crowd the pan; work in batches, if necessary - and brown the meat on all sides, about 4 minutes. Lift the meat out of the pot and onto a plate with a slotted spoon. Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Pour out the fat that it's in the pan, but leave whatever bits may have stuck to the base.
Return the pan to the stove, adjust the heat to low and add 2 more tablespoons of the olive oil. When the oil is warm, stir in the onions and garlic and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, just to get them started on the road to softening. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and continue to cook, stirring often, for another 10 minutes, adding a little more oil, if needed. Add the chicken bouillon/broth to the pot as well as the coriander, saffron - crush the saffron between your fingers as you sprinkle it into the pot - ginger, cumin, cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of the chopped cilantro leaves. Stir to mix and dissolve the spices, season with salt and pepper and spoon the meat over the base of vegetables. Top with the plumped apricots, seal the pan with aluminum foil and clap on the lid. Slide the pan into the oven.
Bake the tagine for 60 minutes before carefully lifting the lid and foil and scattering the almonds over the meat. Recover the pan and allow the tagine to bake for 15 minutes more. (This seems like a tease to me - you open the lid, get a deep whiff of the tagine, see how beautiful it is and then have to wait another 15 minutes before you can dig in. Sometimes, I skip this step and just save the toasted almonds to sprinkle over the tagine at serving time. I give you permission to do likewise.)
Serving: Of course, this should be served as soon as it comes from the oven. If you've cooked it in a tagine, sprinkle the remaining cilantro over the meat, bring the tagine to the table and serve directly from the pan. If you've used a skillet or Dutch oven, transfer the tagine to a warm large serving platter and dust with cilantro. While you could serve the tagine solo, it would be a shame not to offer something to go with the wonderful sauce. I serve either couscous (cooked without spices in chicken broth or water) or white rice.
Storing: Like almost all braised dishes, this one is a good keeper. You can make it a day or two ahead and, when it's cool, cover it well and keep it in the refrigerator. If you make the dish ahead, I'd suggest you only add the toasted almonds when you reheat the tagine for serving and, of course, hold off on the last dusting of cilantro.
, Francoise Maloberti
| April 8, 2009 9:44 PM
Mmmmm. Would this work okay with beef instead of lamb?
| April 8, 2009 9:48 PM
I think this would be equally delicious with beef and I bet it could be fine with pork, too.
Kerrin - MyKugelhopf
| April 9, 2009 1:56 AM
Mama JJ and Dorie, yes, absolutely it's fine with pork too, quite delicious in fact -- I just made it that way 2 days ago! It was a pork tagine with apricots and prunes, served with... couscous! We are on the same wavelength lately - Moroccan dinners and ice cream sundaes too !
Meanwhile, I have 2 fabulous tagines, one I brought back from Morocco, and the other . . . I got from someone very special :)
| April 9, 2009 4:30 AM
Does this work better with Turkish dried apricots? Or does it need the tartness of the California ones?
| April 9, 2009 7:58 AM
Kerrin, how funny that we're so many, many miles apart and seem to be cooking in tandem. I'm delighted that you're getting good use out of your tagine.
Lisa, I like to use Turkish apricots, as much for their plumpness as for their flavor. It could be interesting to use the tart California fruit, but I think if I did, I might use fewer of them.
T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types
| April 9, 2009 8:29 AM
The rich taste of lamb and fruit is always so seductive. Like you, I think of this dish as a winter comfort, but the flavor is so good, I could eat it year round!
| April 9, 2009 10:25 AM
I have been feeling uninspired for our Easter dinner- this would be a terrific choice! Mr. B gave me a tagine for Christmas and I love using it whenever I can. We recently enjoyed a Donnafugata 2006 Ben Rye desert wine that had lovely apricot and peach undertones (from Southern Italy). I bet it would finish this meal nicely!
| April 9, 2009 2:25 PM
That looks really yummy and comforting. I have a tagine from W&S it has been decortaion up til now.
Thanks for the idea! :)
Julia @ MÃ©langer
| April 9, 2009 7:00 PM
It is autumn here, and the temperature is certainly perfect for a tagine. I could tuck into this tonight. Looks delicious. My partner went to Morocco recently to visit friends. He spoke about these amazingly large tagines (multiple!) that were cooked in the home. Way too big for my humble domestic oven...
| April 9, 2009 10:10 PM
Yes, lamb, pork, beef...even chicken (I have to admit I still love that famous and very old Silver Palate recipe that calls for dried prunes and apricots...and I always do it with chicken as an add-on dish to Passover dinner with brisket).
Mixing Bowl Mama
| April 9, 2009 11:37 PM
This looks so delicious and very comforting. We have had snow this week as well and I think this dish would've raised our spirits considerably (we're really in need of some sun and warmth here in Ontario).
Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)
| April 10, 2009 4:33 PM
Since commissioning a local potter to make some tagines (the pots) for me, I've become completely addicted to tagines (the food). The combination of meat and dried fruit is seductive. Chicken with prunes is my absolute favorite, but lamb and apricot runs a close second.
| April 11, 2009 9:15 AM
Lydia, who commented above got me hooked on tagines--I just started eating lamb, so this recipe is going into my tagine!!
| April 13, 2009 2:56 AM
I have a small and a large Emile Henry tagine and absolutely adore them. They cook brilliantly, although I often have to prop the lid up just the tiniest bit (with a toothpick), or the pot will bubble over and splutter.
Something interesting that I saw on an Australian food show about Middle Eastern cooking - some of the expats would fork a mild blue cheese (Blue Castello) through their cooked couscous, to mimic the sour (rancid?) butter that was traditionally stirred through it. Since I've started doing that, I've become completely hooked on the combination! Cheers, Celia
| April 13, 2009 5:07 AM
Wonderfully delicious looking Tagine Dorie. I made one not to long ago with lamb and prunes and it was fabulous. I can imagine that with apricots it would be equally so. Come to think of it one of my favourite roasts is a succulent pork roast stuffed with prunes and apricots and I am thinking a prune and apricot pork tagine, whilst not authentically Moroccan, would be pretty wonderful too!
| April 13, 2009 7:19 AM
This is the perfect recipe for the two pounds of local grass fed lamb I just got from my CSA. I'm hooked on quinoa, so I'll serve it with that. Many years ago I made a similar tagine with beef and prunes. I can't wait to make this!
| April 13, 2009 9:18 AM
I love mixing aromatic spices like cinnamon and cumin with lamb -- I can't wait to try this when I get back to Paris!
| April 13, 2009 6:47 PM
God bless you for this recipe!!! I made it today for our little post-Easter gathering and everybody loved it.
Since I don't have a Tagine, I prepared it in a cast iron pot,used Turkish apricots and served it with basmati rice.
Absolutely fantastic! Thank you!
| April 14, 2009 3:33 AM
Holy Mole, Dorie!!
I can literally taste this right now. It looks so bright and intense. I love it!
First thing tomorrow, I am shopping for everything I need to make this. Wow! This is such a gorgeous looking and sounding recipe, my mouth is exploding in anticipation.
What a beautiful gift. Thank you, Dorie!
| December 4, 2009 5:48 AM
This looks like such a lovely recipes. I will try this for dinner tonight!!
| January 8, 2010 8:20 PM
I've made this several times and it's great. I bought an Emile Henry Tagine and bring it right to the table. It's a nice company dish, especially for travelers.
| February 25, 2010 12:36 PM
ChÃ¨re Dorie (et Kerrin),
of course pork will work but chut ... Islam is the official morrocan religion.
During my frequent visits to the morrocan home of my friend Souad in Rabat, in the 90's, tagines were always cooked in a cocotte and the tagine dishes were used only for presentation, and serving. I think it is because even in affluent homes, the ovens were too small to fit the high lids (same with my Lacanche). And when my daughter was living in the medina of Tanger, more recently, women would bring their tagines to the baker's communal oven to cook, while they went to the hammam or the market or whatever. Much like the baeckhoffe in Alsace : women would bring their dishes to the baker and go to the river to do their laundry, while their dish cooked.
Ceramic tagines in all sizes and bright colors are indeed everywhere now, but I cherish my daughter's very rustic clay tagine. I was told it is made by women, because they do not have access to the varnish ... says Mohammed, who recently gave me "s'men", the "rancid" butter, now I have to cook in the cocotte, melt the smen, and drizzle it on top before serving in that clay tagine (I am keeping it for my daughter who has no room in her tiny parisian kitchen).
Your recipes and photos are always wonderful,
Merci et gros bisous,
| September 19, 2010 1:10 PM
Does anyone know if you can freeze this dish, and if yes, will it still taste as good when reheated? How would you reheat it? Thank you!
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