Monday, April 17, 2017

Lamb Stew. 100 Days of Recipes: Day 14

Lamb Stew, a la Tagine

A Tagine is a dish from North Africa, named for the conical earthenware pot used to cook it. The conical lid allows for a very moist atmosphere in cooking, and the results are just as mouth-watering. 

I have yet to make myself a ceramic tagine - it's on the list, but I can approximate the results in my large, enameled cast iron stock pot, and that's what I did recently for our studio Annual Meeting that I hosted at my home.

The original serving, over cauliflower couscous with roasted sweet potatoes

As soon as I do make that tagine pot, I'll make the recipe again, and then I can give a good comparison. But given how abso-friggin-lutely good this came out in my stock pot, I'm not sure I'll be rushing to make the pot or the comparison (but it is still on the list)!

Lamb Tagine (serves 4)

Preheat oven to 300 (day of cooking!)
Marinade for the 3 pounds of lamb* (do the day before):

2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground allspice

*I used 3 pounds of boneless leg of lamb, with excess fat trimmed and chopped into 1" cubes.

Place the lamb in a bowl, sprinkle the dry marinade on top and massage it thoroughly throughout the lamb. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight. 

Take the lamb out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you're ready to start - by the time you prep the rest of the ingredients for the tagine, it'll have warmed up just enough.

In a large cast iron or other heavy-bottomed pan, heat about 1 TBSP of olive oil to med-hi heat. Add as much of the lamb as you can without crowding it - it should all be a single layer with room (in a 10" pan, that's about 1/3 of your lamb). Brown the lamb on all sides, and remove it to a large stock pot (mine is an enameled cast iron pot, like Staub or Le Creuset). Repeat with the remaining lamb, adding more oil as needed.

Leftovers become even more tender, with even richer flavors.
To the stock pot, add:

1 TBSP freshly grated ginger
1 head of garlic cloves, smashed and roughly chopped
1 large onion, grated
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
6 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced in half or left whole if small
2 28-oz can diced or crushed tomatoes
2 cups of stock (lamb or chicken)
10 dates, cut into 1/3's
8 dried apricots, cut into 1/4" slices
2 TBSP honey

Cover pot and place in 300 degree oven for 3-4 hours* Lamb will be SO tender, and the fruit and vegetables will make a thick, luxurious sauce. Remove it from the oven and let it sit for about 10 minutes before removing from pot. Serve over couscous, or to be gluten free, cauliflower couscous (this recipe will show up soon, too).

*Ovens vary, and cook time will also vary depending on how consistently you cut the lamb.

One more note: I had intended to include sweet potatoes in the pot with the lamb, but one of my studio mates offered to bring some as a side dish, so she roasted sweet potato chunks in a dry marinade similar to what I used on the lamb. Had they been in the pot, they would have melted into the sauce with the other veg and been delicious, but having them roasted separately made them a perfect compliment to the rich tagine, with the lightness of the cauliflower couscous making a trifecta of deliciousness!

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