So it’s shaping up to be pretty much all comfort food all the time here on the Kitchen Front. I’m okay with that if you are.
Last time we visited Italy. This week, we head across the Mediterranean Sea for a Moroccan-inspired stew. Traditional tagines are one-pot affairs in the truest sense: everything goes in at once to cook long and slowly together. But I gave this one a bit of a French twist by working the ingredients in stages: browning the meat, softening the onions, toasting the spices and so forth. If you’re strapped for time, you could definitely do it the old fashioned way. A note on the original recipe here: I tasted it halfway through and found it to be a bit too mild: I added the cumin and coriander for a slight punch of heat and balance to the sweetness of the honey and prunes. Serve over couscous, or scooped onto flatbread.
Tagine with Prunes and Cinnamon (adapted from Gourmet)
- 1 lb boneless lamb shoulder or stewing beef (I used beef shanks) cut into cubes
- 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 small cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 pinch saffron threads
- 1 tablespoon water or wine
- 1 cup prunes
- 1 ½ tablespoons honey
- 1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat; dust meat with flour, salt and pepper and brown in batches, about three minutes per batch. Add extra oil as needed. Set browned meat aside.
- Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, toast saffron in a dry skillet until fragrant (about 30 seconds), remove from heat and crumble into a tablespoon of wine or water and let stand for a minute.
- Add cinnamon stick and spices to the onions and cook until fragrant, about one minute, then add saffron mixture. Boil quickly, while scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pot.
- Return meat and accumulated juices to pot and add enough water to just cover the meat. (about 2-2½ Cups)
- Gently simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally and skimming off fat as you go.
- Stir in prunes and honey and simmer uncovered until meat is tender and sauce has thickened, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, toast sesame seeds in dry small skillet over medium heat, stirring, until pale golden. Stir into stew along with salt and pepper to taste and serve.