Monday, February 13, 2012

Lamb Tagine with Prunes

Adapted from Claudia Roden's The New Book of Middle Eastern Food p. 254.

So, in case it's not obvious, I've switched from an almost entirely vegetarian (except for bacon) diet to one that is high protein.  And I don't mean just eating lots of eggs and Greek Yogurt--I mean meat and lots of it.  Even red meat.  And lamb, which I don't eat a lot of but this recipe sounded so good that I had to try it out.  You can use beef just as easily if that's your preference.  Don't use bone-in meat for this, just cube it and trim it of any excess fat.  Also, I think it's good to have lots of veg with your meat so I added lots more than the recipe called for.  In fact, everything but the onion is an add-on.  And I think it turned out perfectly because the lamb is really rich and the veg just soaks up all that delicious juice.

2 lbs shoulder of lamb (or beef), cubed with excess fat removed
3 T vegetable oil
1 t ground ginger
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t allspice
2 t ground cinnamon (Vietnamese, please)
salt & pepper
a fat pinch of red pepper flakes
1 lg onion, medium dice
1 lg red bell pepper, medium dice
2 zucchini, medium dice
1 large eggplant, medium dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz pitted prunes
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed well
1/2 C toasted slivered almonds

Set broiler to low and line a large baking sheet with foil.  Toss the zucchini and eggplant with a little olive oil, S&P and spread into an even layer on the baking sheet.  Place under broiler, stirring occasionally until veg is done and nicely charred in spots.  You could just cook all this together with the meat but in another section of Claudia's book she talks about the delicious flavor that broiled and lightly charred veg brings to the dish.  I agree.

In the meantime, using a tagine (if you have one) or a brazier or dutch oven, add the oil, spices, onion, garlic, bell pepper and meat and brown meat on all sides.  Add water to cover and simmer gently, covered, for about 1.5 hrs or until the meat is very tender.  Add more water if needed to keep the meat covered.

Add the prunes and cook 30 min until the liquid is reduced to a "thick, unctuous sauce."  Add chick peas and stir until warmed through.  Garnish with slivered almonds and serve with roasted veg and rice or cous cous.  Tastes even better the next day.

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