Easy Moroccan Lamb Tagine

This is a dish that will make you feel like you can cook. You know, really cook…not that the original avocado toast was anything short of genius.

If you’re one of those people who can make only floppy or charred toast to order, or if nine times out of ten the yolks in your boiled eggs come out a dull shade of blue-gray, take heart. Put on an apron [this always makes me feel like less of an imposter], and haul out your mom’s Dutch oven. Set it down on the stove. Don’t you feel more official already?

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You’re going to make a Moroccan-spiced lamb tagine. Moroccan sounds exotic and lamb sounds impressive. “Tagine” really just boils down to a fancy word for stew. And stew sounds much more exciting than stir-fry!

As an added bonus, you can put almost 100% of the meal together hours before calling everyone à table. This is excellent news for two reasons:

One: You can have your stomach-dropping moments [say, when the cute mortar and pestle you bought fails to grind ANYTHING, or when the spice mixture you just hammered into submission glues immediately to the smoking hot/alarmingly dry cast-iron] in private!

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You can slice the onions the way you weren’t shown 25 times, and cry those stinging tears in relative peace. You can even give into the temptation to rub your eyes [though I really don’t recommend it] without any comments from the peanut gallery.

You can let the first pot of burned rice soak in the sink while you fire up another one. You can sneak a poignée [French for “handful”] of dried apricots; you can drop a fully loaded spatula on the floor; you can overbrown the lamb by a shade or two [it’s going to be swimming in sauce by the time people see it]. It’s all going to be okay!

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Two: You’re going to believe it’s going to be okay, even good, possibly even great, approximately 15 minutes after you wrestle on the lid and start the stew’s slow simmer. The spice-infused scent of cooking lamb is simply irresistible. And you have a minimum of three hours for it to swirl around your kitchen! Diners like to be greeted by good smells. Take a deep breath yourself. That cinnamon-y cumin combination says: “I know just what I’m doing”.

Now you can decompress. You didn’t have preserved lemon, but the sunny yellow zest from your humble 50-cent lemon is going to do just fine.

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Let the small blue flame work it’s magic now, and shortly before you’re ready to serve, add in the carrots, apricots, and olives. Scoop equal portions of rice [unless this is a dinner party for a set of constantly carb-loading boys] into a few assiettes creuses [concave plates]. Spoon out the stew and arrange a few sprigs of parsley in a delicate pile on top, if you can get everyone to hang on that long. At least plate your own in a way that pleases you! Now, you’re a little harried, a little flushed, and a lot hungry. See? You’re a natural.

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Click here for the recipe.

Cook’s notes:

  • If you’d like to have any kind of sauce to stew ratio, add more broth to the pot periodically.
  • If you’d like your carrots to melt in your mouth, allow more than the 15 minutes suggested.
  • Somebody special once told me stews are even better after they’ve sat overnight. Try it cold the following day, perhaps over couscous or quinoa. Brown rice disappears like candy around here.
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