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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Braise the Roof

It's that time again.

"The weather outside is frightful.
But the fire is so delightful.
And since we've got no place to go
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!!"

How could I resist?  It's December.  The weather is, shall we say, less than ideal.  And,  in lieu of a bunch of holiday gifts that my kids neither need nor want, we are going on a warm weather vacation.  As a result, I have no real holiday shopping to do.

What to do with all this spare, housebound time?


I love, love, love braised food.  Maybe it's my eastern European roots.  Maybe it's my fear of roasting.  Maybe it's that braised food is just so damn comforting.  Who knows?  But I'm a fan of braised anything.

I am especially fond of tagines.  They're hearty and the ultimate in one pot cooking.  This recipe from Ina Garten's new cookbook, Make It Ahead is full of all my favorite braised things: lamb, butternut squash, Moroccan spices, and sweet potatoes.  Served over simply cooked couscous, you'll look like you slaved away all day, when in reality you slaved for about a half an hour and the oven did the actual slaving away for three low and slow cooking hours.

You'll have a reason for staying in your nice, warm house all afternoon.  Maybe you'll tackle that closet that needs reorganizing, or that pantry that needs a little straightening.  Or not.

Recipe:  Moroccan Lamb Tagine
Ina Garten, Make it Ahead, 2014


2 tablespoons olive oil, or more if needed
6 small frenched lamb shanks (5 to 6 pounds total)
2 large onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
teaspoons chile powder
teaspoons ground turmeric
teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cinnamon stick
1 can (28 ounces) dicedntomatoes (such as San Marzano)
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons lightly packed light brown sugar
4 slices of lime, ¼ inch thick
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound (2 medium) Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled and cut into 1-inch dice
1 pound (½ medium) peeled butternut squash, cut into 1-inch dice
½ pound (1 medium) sweet potato, unpeeled and cut into 1-inch dice


Set the oven at 300 degrees.

In a very large (12- to 13-inch) flameproof casserole or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil. Pat the lamb shanks dry with paper towels. In batches, cook the lamb shanks over medium heat for 3 minutes on each side, until they are nicely browned. Transfer to a plate and brown the remaining shanks, adding a little more oil if necessary. Transfer all the shanks to the plate; set aside.

Add the onions to the pan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds. Add the
chile powder, turmeric, cumin,
cardamom, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Stir in the tomatoes, with their liquid, the chicken stock, brown sugar, lime, a generous pinch each of salt and pepper, the potatoes, squash, and sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil. Return shanks to the pot, spooning some of the sauce and vegetables over the meat (they will not be completely
submerged). Cover and transfer to the oven.

Cook for 3 hours, until the lamb shanks are very tender. Serve with steamed couscous.

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