the taste space

Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Dates and Almonds with Cinnamon-Scented Couscous

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Meat), Sides by janet @ the taste space on August 6, 2010

I love having a food blog because it chronicles what I eat. And so I know this to be true.

This is monumental: I made my second meat dish since I started the blog!
(The first being sinfully delicious German beef rolls).

I am not vegetarian, but mainly prepare vegetarian dishes at home.  I love fish, so that definitely prevents me from becoming a vegetarian. I have been going through many Middle Eastern cookbooks and food blogs, and was itching to make a tagine.  Slow-simmered meat with savoury ingredients sounded really good and I have yet to come across a good vegetarian alternative yet. Claudia Roden’s Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Dates and Almonds screamed out at me. “Make me!”, it said.

I obviously have a thing or two to learn about cooking meat, though.

So what does boned mean?  I figured deboned meant meat without a bone, and boned meant with a bone.

When I went to buy 3 lb of boned lamb shoulder for the tagine, I bought bone-in lamb shoulder. That’s what the recipe says, right? Well, when I came home, my mom was not pleased. It was $18 but that wasn’t what displeased her. Boned lamb means WITHOUT bones. Gah! Thankfully she helped rid the excess fat and bone so it was ready for the tagine.

Technically a tagine is made in a tagine clay pot and Roden explains in Arabesque that a lidded, heavy-bottomed casserole or stainless steel pan is preferred for making a tagine.  I feel that a large wide pan is preferred so you have a single layer of meat and this limits the amount of water needed to cover the meat to allow it to simmer.  This water is completely reduced by the end, producing a thick, rich sauce. My pot was a bit narrow so we had a lot of liquid. We ended up taking out the meat and boiling the heck out of the sauce.. I mean we reduced the sauce over high heat. ;)

After nearly 2 hours of simmering and sputtering, sometimes being watched, oftentimes not, we were able to enjoy this succulent lamb tagine. It was wonderful. The lamb was melt-in-your-mouth and the cinnamon, honey and dates made a delicious sweet and savoury sauce. Roasted almonds add the finishing crunch.

As a side to the tagine, we served couscous. But this wasn’t any couscous. I always thought you made couscous by adding boiling water, covering for 10 minutes and then fluffing it with a fork. I always found it bland and dry, so I was hoping to spruce things up a bit. I noticed Roden had a different way of preparing basic couscous, including a 15-20 minute bake in the oven, and when I stumbled upon a spiced couscous side at Confessions of a Cardamom Addict, I also added in cinnamon and raisins to the mixture. It was definitely not bland and dry. It was mighty tasty.

Together, we had a winning combo.

If anyone has a recommendation for a great vegetable tagine, I am all ears. :)

This is my submission to Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Siri at Siri’s Corner this week, and to this week’s BSI with couscous.

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