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Thursday, March 31, 2011

In Like a Lion and Out Like a Lion

New York Times

Today is March 31st although you would never know by looking outside.  My thermometer in the hall says that it's 35 degrees outside.  It may technically be spring but I don't think the northeast and midwest weather gods got the memo.

I have spent the last couple of days trying to keep warm.  To say I am unhappy about this would be a gross understatement.  I thought I was done with heavy jackets and socks.  I must admit, however, that I am holding fast to my "no socks, no heavy coats" declaration of a week or two ago.  This may not have been the smartest proclamation to make but I'm holding fast, hence my problem with staying warm.

So, while I may be pretending it's spring, I have to admit that I was quite pleased to see a recipe for a lamb tagine in yesterday's New York Times.  Tagine sounded good to me.  What was particularly appealing about this recipe was that the author, John Willoughby, suggested not browning the lamb as a first step in the preparation.  This was music to my ears because it's a huge mess to brown meat and I just wasn't feeling it.

Well, as they say, the proof is in the pudding.  This tagine had an amazing depth of flavor.  I just love it when I can use technical phrases like "depth of flavor" and actually mean it.  This recipe had relatively few ingredients for a tagine but cooked all together they produced a surprisingly rich and complex flavor.  There I go spouting technical terms again but it's true.  The flavor was really satisfying.  The end result was a somewhat lighter tasting tagine, which makes this less a winter dish and more a springtime take on the classic.

Dinner warmed me up and I'm feeling more optimistic about spring actually arriving.  Until spring comes, there were two other no brown tagine recipes included in the article.  I think I may have to try one or both if the weather doesn't improve.

To read the entire article and check out the other recipes, go to Deep Flavor, No Browning Required.

Recipe:  Tagine Style Beef Stew
(New York Times 3/30/11)


2 pounds lamb should, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, grated (about 1/3 cup)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup apricot preserves
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 20 ounce can chickpeas,. drained and rinsed
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Cooked couscous, for serving


In a Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-low heat.  Add the lamb, onion, garlic, cinnamon, salt, pepper, coriander, cumin, red pepper flakes, apricot preserves, and vinegar and cook, stirring frequently, until the aroma of the spices is strong, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Do not allow the meat to brown.

Add the chickpeas and stock, and bring just to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer gently until the lamb is very tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Add the raisins and continue to cook, uncovered, until they are nicely plumped, about 10 minutes more.  Remove from the heat, stir in the parsley and the lemon juice, and serve with couscous.

1 comment:

  1. Happy April!!!

    I love the idea of not having to brown the meat. It really does make quite the mess sometimes, especially lamb.

    Your tagine sure sounds warm and hearty Nadine. I know, these are not spring like terms but this stew is surely one way to stay warm until Spring decides to join us...

    Thanks for sharing...