Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Lamb and Vegetable Tagine With Dried Fig Couscous

Thanks to Meeta of What's for Lunch Honey for thinking up this great Middle-Eastern cuisine round-up! The Arabian Nights theme is actually perfect for me since I live in the largest Arabic-speaking neighborhood in Milan. There's a mosque around the block and a Halal butcher on every corner, so the cuisine is very accessible. Our Moroccan grocers around the block are the only Halal butchers to carry Merguez sausage (my favorite!), cracked Moroccan green olives and preserved lemons, so I go to them a lot. The other day, for a 10-person dinner party I made a lamb and vegetable tagine perfumed with preserved lemons, cumin, cayenne and cinnamon.

1 cup dried chick peas (or other beans. I actually used unorthodox black beans here)
1 bay leaf
2 lbs lamb shoulder
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups diced onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
at least 4 cups stock (chicken, beef or lamb all work well here)to cover all other ingredients
4 medium carrots, roughly chopped
2 medium potatoes, roughly chopped
1 cup cracked Moroccan green olives
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsps cumin
2 tsps cinnamon
1 medium preserved lemon, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsps honey

The day before you make the tagine, soak the chick peas in water over night. The next day, boil them with a bay leaf for 2 hours or until tender. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, heat the oil over a high flame and sear the lamb pieces on all sides. Remove from the pot and add the onions. Reduce heat to medium and sautee until they are soft and brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, stir and immediately add the lamb pieces back into the pot. Add the 4 cups of stock or more to cover. Bring to a boil then lower heat to just a simmer (medium-low). Let simmer for 1 hour. Add the carrots and continue simmering for another 15 minutes. Add extra stock or water to keep everything covered. Add the drained chick peas, the olives, the potatoes, the honey and all the spices and cook another 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are done. Turn off heat.

Dried Fig Couscous

1/2 cup dried figs, in a 1/4 inch dice
1/2 cup raisins
5 cups chicken, beef or lamb stock
4 cups fine-grain couscous
salt to taste

Heat the stock with the fruit in it to the boiling point, take off heat and pour over the couscous. Stir to make sure all the grains have been incorporated. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

To serve, spoon out a mound of couscous on each plate and ladle the lamb tagine on top. Music to eat couscous by: the Italian song "Notti Arabe" by Amir. Check out the lyrics all about the sensuality of love and Middle Eastern food! Enjoy!


Blogger Christina said...

Oh how I love, love, love, Moroccan food. I'm so excited that you posted this recipe--I can't wait to try it. I do have a question though. I make my own preserved lemons with a Paula Wolfert recipe that tells me to quarter the lemons before packing them in salt. Is the preserved lemon you use here a whole lemon, or is it a quarter? Thanks for the clarification and for the lovely recipe.

2:43 PM  
Blogger Beenzzz said...

Moroccan food is so delicious! I have to try this recipe. I am not a lamb person, but maybe I would like it prepared this way! My husband and I make chicken tagine every so often. We've also made Moroccan style meat balls (are those called Koftas?) in our tagine as well.

7:14 PM  
Blogger Meeta said...

Love it! I can just taste all the incredible flavors here. Thank you for the entry to the MM.

8:26 PM  
Blogger Lotus Reads said...

This I can do!!! Thank you for the recipe Susan...mmmm...my family will love a change from the regular Indian fare I give them! :)

I went hunting for the tune to Notti Arabe...I found some other songs by Amir on YouTube, but not the one you mentioned. I love world music, so I often go hunting for music you recommend here...thanks!

10:18 PM  
Blogger Maria said...

Yum- I LOVE Moroccan food! Your tagine looks absolutely delicious! What lucky dinner party guests you have

4:06 AM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hey Cristina, The preserved lemon I used was whole with a little slit at the top. (I didn't make mine, but bought it at the Halal butcher)I used the whole thing but I think I could have even used 2 whole ones!

Hi Beenzzz, Sure, use chicken or beef or even koftas or Merguez sausage.

Hi Meeta, Thanks for hosting Arabian Nights!

Hi Lotus! I feel like Moroccan stews are a lot like curries with the chutney built in (with all the fruit they put in) And dont'cha just love you tube?

Hi Maria, Thanks very much!

11:43 AM  
Blogger ML said...

Moroccan food is delishous! This is definitely something I would make.

6:01 PM  
Blogger ML said...

By the way, I tagged you on my blog :)

6:01 PM  
Blogger hellomelissa said...

well, susan, i'm sure when you posted this that you knew i'd try it. yum! reminds me of your other recipe for merguez with couscous which has become a standby at our house. i've done that recipe with just plain ol' chicken, and it's good that way, too.

1:39 AM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi ML, Thanks for the tag, I'll get on it soon!

HiMelissa, I DID think of you because you tried the Merquez couscous but I didn't know you had made it a staple! That's great! Let me know if you try this one how you like it.

2:45 PM  

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