On October 19, 2015 I ate ALL the tagine and I was the happiest girl in the world.
No seriously, Lamb Tagine with Chickpeas and Apricots is that good (..that it inspired my first ever blog-diary entry).
Let’s just recap tagine in all it’s glory. First of all, it’s also known as tajine. Spelled differently, pronounced the same. I spell it “tagine” for no other reason aside from the fact that the first time I saw it spelled this way at the first restaurant that served me tagine and the spelling stuck in my mind ever since..The word tagine is actually both the name of the meal and also the name of the iconic clay vessel that is used for cooking. A tagine vessel consists of 2 pieces- the rounded bottom (where all the food goes), and of course the conical shaped top (not pictured) that goes on top that helps trap steam and return the moisture to the food. Allegedly this allows a drought-resistant part of the world to slow-cook food with very little water. It’s like a little recycling chamber. (Okay California… stop watering those almonds… we’re need to become the US tagine capital!!).
Ahem, anyway.. Tagines are of Berber origin and are used throughout North Africa (probably most notably Morocco) for braising all sorts of dishes, most commonly various types of meats or hearty vegetables. The trick to a good tagine dish- braising that meat low and slow and not being afraid of adding a little spice.Specifically, Ras el Hanout, which is the name of a traditional North African spice blend. My recipe includes a list of spices that would commonly make up a Ras el Hanout blend, but are listed individually because I doubt most people want to go out and buy some Ras el Hanout. In addition to spices, most tagines will have a mixture of sweet and savory elements. In this case, the tagine is made up of tender falling-apart lamb shanks and a sauce made up of onion, garlic, tomatoes, chickpeas, and apricots. Can we all collectively say YUM?!
Thanks.And vegetarians- While I can’t with 100% certainty say this would be the greatest tagine ever if you omit the lamb shanks and add more chickpeas (because.. lamb fat and bone marrow = so much flavor… mmmm), I CAN say that I did find myself diving in for extra chickpeas long after my lamb shank was just a bone on my plate.
(That’s my best attempt at a legume endorsement… eat them but know they’d be better if you slathered them in lamb bone marrow).
So please please please make this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
And diary, remind me to start dieting… next week.
Lamb Tagine with Chickpeas and Apricots
- 2 French-trimmed Lamb Shanks
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion sliced thin
- 5 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon grate ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoons ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 cup canned diced tomatoes with juices
- 1 cup drained canned chickpeas
- ½ cup dried apricots halved
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- Salt and pepper
- Chopped cilantro for garnish
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on high heat. Season lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Sear lamb on all sides until brown crust develops. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add an additional tablespoon of oil if needed. Add onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic, ginger, and ground spices. Saute for 1 minute more.
- Spoon the onion mixture into the bottom of a tagine. To this, add the tomatoes, chickpeas, and apricots.
- Arrange the lamb shanks on top of this mixture and then pour in the 2 cups of chicken stock- you may need a little more or less depending on the size of your lamb. Lightly stir the sauce mixture underneath the lamb to combine the flavors a bit, and spoon some of the onion mixture over the top of the lamb.
- Cover your tagine with it's lid and bake in the oven for 3 to 3.5 hours, or until lamb is fork-tender.
- Taste sauce (carefully) and season with additional salt to taste.
- Garnish with cilantro if desired.
- Serve with couscous.