My hand-painted tagine has been a decorative piece in our dining room but has never served as a cooking vessel as it was meant to do — until tonight. Finally I seasoned it, invested in a little diffuser to use on a flame-top stove, and improvised on a recipe from the Bon Appétit archives. We all loved how aromatic and sweetly spiced (but not spicy!) the sauce was, infused with apricots, ginger, and a ras-el-hanout blend (coriander, cumin, cinnamon and turmeric, among other spices). The lamb, after 2 hours of slow simmering, was spoon-tender and luscious. I used leg of lamb, but lamb shoulder or even beef would also work great in this recipe; and although the funnel-shaped tagine helps keep the moisture circulating inside, you could easily cook this in a Dutch oven or other pot and just increase the amount of broth for the sauce. I served the sauce over couscous with raisins and some toasted pine nuts to give it some crunchy texture. This Moroccan-inspired dish is perfect for a cold winter evening with family or a small gathering of friends. Enjoy!
Lamb and Apricot Tagine
(Adapted roughly from Bon Appetit‘s October 2011 recipe, “Lamb Tagine with Chickpeas and Apricots”)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds lamb shoulder or leg of lamb cut into 1-inch cubes (I used leg of lamb, cut it into cubes and had a large piece leftover with a bone that I also browned with the cubes and added to the center of the tagine for simmering)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves (2 whole, 1 minced)
- 1 large cinnamon stick, broken in half
- 1 tablespoon Ras-el-Hanout spice blend
- 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
- 1 cup canned diced tomatoes with juices
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock (more or less, to cover the lamb) for the tagine sauce, plus 2 cups more for the couscous
- About 8 halved dried unsulfured apricots
- 2 cups couscous
- 1/2 cup raisins (golden or dark)
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- olive oil & salt
- 1 handful chopped fresh cilantro
Equipment: skillet(s), tagine with diffuser (or use a Dutch oven or other pot and increase the broth in the sauce to 2 1/2 cups)
- Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Season lamb with salt and pepper. Working in batches, brown lamb on all sides, about 4 minutes per batch. Transfer lamb to a medium bowl. Add onion to skillet; reduce heat to medium, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until soft and beginning to turn golden, about 5 minutes, while using a wooden spoon to scrape off any browned bits from the pan. Add minced garlic, Ras-el-Hanout , and ginger. Stir for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and stir until incorporated; turn off the heat.
- On another (cool) burner, set up the tagine over the diffuser and transfer the browned lamb and any juices from the bowl to the tagine. Set the flame on low and slowly heat up the tagine. Add the contents of the skillet, the cinnamon stick, and the 2 whole cloves of garlic to the tagine and slowly heat up to a boil. Add 1 1/2 cups warm stock, or just enough to cover the meat. Return to a boil, reduce heat to low, place the cover over the tagine, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lamb is tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Skim any accumulated fat off the top of the sauce and discard. Stir in apricots and continue simmering for about 20 minutes. Uncover the tagine, skim off any more fat, remove the cinnamon stick pieces, and let it simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes more. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary.
- In the last 10 minutes of cooking, prepare couscous. Let the raisins soak for 5 minutes in 2 cups of the warm chicken broth in a medium bowl, then add the 2 cups of couscous and cover the bowl with wrap; let it sit for 5 minutes. In a small skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and a generous sprinkling of sea salt and brown the pine nuts. Fluff the couscous with a fork and pour in the browned pine nuts with the oil, fluffing again lightly.
- Scoop couscous into bowls, spoon the tagine sauce on top and sprinkle fresh chopped cilantro over it.
January 29, 2014 at 9:04 pm
Lovely recipe and BEAUTIFUL tagine!!! I want one!!!
January 30, 2014 at 12:07 pm
Thanks! I do love looking at my tagine, and I was so afraid I’d break it trying to cook with it – so happy it holds up!
January 30, 2014 at 12:08 pm
I bet you held your breath??
January 30, 2014 at 12:15 pm
Yes! And it actually made a ticking noise as it heated up — I was bracing for the worst
January 30, 2014 at 12:17 pm
Oh golly!!! Thank goodness it was okay 🙂
January 29, 2014 at 10:15 pm
The tagine is beautiful, I can see why you have it displayed as a decorative piece. I have never cooked with one, now I want a tagine and to make this stew. It looks incredibly delicious.
January 30, 2014 at 12:13 pm
Thanks, Suzanne, it was really delicious and not too complicated (though did take a lot of time simmering by itself on the stovetop — I was actually tempted to leave it as I ran errands, but I remembered your kitchen catastrophe you recounted on food52 and decided against that!) My tagine purchase was a tad superfluous but I have a soft spot for ceramics of all kinds, do you too? It does make a good conversation piece 🙂
January 30, 2014 at 3:19 pm
I do have a soft spot/obsession with both ceramics and glassware. I collect ceramics and cake stands domed and not. I immediately fell in love with your tagine and started searching for one.
Yes, that very scary incident on food52 cured me of ever leaving anything cooking while I am gone. I am tempted still but won’t do it.
January 29, 2014 at 10:19 pm
I am always happy to have another tagine recipe – it is a great way to use fresh spice mixtures. Must get a tagine. Yours is beautiful.
January 30, 2014 at 12:20 pm
Yes, I love the spices here, they bring out the best in the lamb. I think you’d enjoy having a tagine — to look at and cook up more wonderful dishes 🙂
January 29, 2014 at 11:32 pm
I bet your kitchen smelled wonderful with the sweet spicy aroma coming from your gorgeous tagine!
January 30, 2014 at 12:22 pm
Yes, my hubby actually came through the door asking what was for dessert – the spice mixture was so sweetly aromatic! And it was such a complement to the lamb, we’re already dreaming of an encore tagine.
January 30, 2014 at 12:49 am
Wonderful looking tagine.
January 30, 2014 at 12:22 pm
January 30, 2014 at 10:14 am
I am totally echoing Suzanne and LadyRedSpecs. I live for dishes like this and can imagine the aroma spread in your home. I also, want to have a tagine as beautiful as yours.
January 30, 2014 at 12:27 pm
I think you should have one, Fae 🙂 It makes me happy just to look at it! Yes, the aromas that filled the house were wonderful, and we need to make this one again for sure. Next time with guests, and I wish you could join us!
January 30, 2014 at 8:38 pm
That is so beautiful. I”m glad you got around to using it! I really like the taste of lamb and this recipe looks marvelous. All of those fragrant spices…Yum!
February 4, 2014 at 5:15 pm
Thanks, Amanda! Well I wish I had your photography skills to really show the beauty of the dish. I do enjoy the tagine, and the fragrant/flavorful spices truly are wonderful. I’ll need to make this again!