After last Easter’s lamb tajine cook off, it seemed right to give it a try to a different kind of meat, now that Winter is on its way. For the same price, Si and Dave, on their Hairy Bikers version, also got an opportunity redeem themselves from the least favourite tajine of the cook off. It is slow food at it very slowest food. But, the result is a pure comfort food, packed with different flavours and textures, with sweet and spice notes. Perfect for a cold Winter day… A word of warning, though: it is a very heavy and filling dish. Most likely, it is also a caloric bomb…
- 750g of braising steak
- 4 tbsp sunflower oil
- 2 onions, halved and sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp hot chilli powder
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 3 tbsp clear honey
- 1 beef stock cube
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 medium sweet potato (around 400g)
- 2 large apples
- 25g bunch fresh coriander
- 75g no-soak dried prunes, halved
- flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the garnish
- 1 large red-skinned apple
- 15g butter
- 1 tbsp clear honey
If not using a tajine, preheat the oven to 180oC.
Trim the beef of any hard fat and cut into roughly 3cm chunks. Season all over with salt and pepper.
Heat one tablespoon of the oil in the tagine (or in a large non-stick frying pan, you are not using the tajine). Fry the beef in three batches over a high heat until lightly browned on all sides, adding a little more oil to the pan when needed. Reserve or transfer each batch to a large flameproof casserole once browned.
Reduce the heat and add two tablespoons more oil to the tajine (or the frying pan). Fry the onions for five minutes, or until softened and lightly coloured, stirring regularly. Add the garlic and sprinkle with the cumin, coriander and chilli powder. Cook for 1-2 minutes more, stirring constantly.
Put the brown meat back to the tajine (or tip the onions and spices into the casserole with the beef). Add about 50ml of cold water to the tagine and mix well to lift the sediment from the bottom. In case you are not using the tajine, add 150mL of water to the frying pan and stir until the sediment is gone. Pour the water into the casserole.
Add about 150mL of water, the tomatoes and chickpeas to the casserole and stir in the honey. Crumble the stock cube over the top, add the cinnamon stick and stir well. Bring to a simmer on the hob, stirring a couple of times. Cover with the tajine and let cook for about 1½ hours. In case you are not using a tajine, you will have to use a bit more water (about 350mL), let it boil. Then cover the dish with a lid, transfer to the oven and cook for 1½ hours.
Ten minutes before the time is up, peel the sweet potato and cut into roughly 2.5cm chunks. Peel the apples, cut into quarters and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 2cm chunks. Trim the coriander and roughly chop half of the leaves.
If you are not using the tajine, carefully take the casserole out of the oven and remove the lid. Stir in the sweet potato, apples, prunes and chopped coriander. Cover once more and return to the oven. If you are using a tajine, just add the remaining ingredients and give it a good stir. In both cases, cook for a further 45-60 minutes, or until the beef is very tender.
To make the garnish, cut the apple into quarters and remove the core. Slice each apple quarter lengthways into five. Season with ground black pepper. Melt the butter in a large non-stick frying pan and fry the apple slices over a high heat for 3-4 minutes, or until lightly browned, turning occasionally. Remove from the heat, drizzle with the honey and toss lightly.
Scatter the fried apples over the tajine in the casserole, scatter with roughly chopped coriander and serve.
After The Spicery and The Laughing Lemmon, now is the turn of the Hairy Dieters. Again, the same basic ingredients: lamb, spices and fruits. But, it also had chickpeas and tinned tomatoes. And it was sweet. Very sweet… probably one spoon of honey too much for my taste buds. All in all, it was delicious and filling. In fact, a lot more heavy than the other version even though it had much less fat. Don’t take me wrong – it was delicious. It is the comparison with the Laughing Lemnon’s which it makes it sound like a bit pedestrian.
Lamb tajine (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)
- 750gm lamb shoulder
- 2tsp ground cumin
- 2tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1tsp hot chilli powder
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 2 medium onions halved and sliced
- 2 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
- 400gm can chopped tomatoes
- 400mls cold water
- 3tbsp runny honey
- 400g tin of chick peas drained and rinsed
- 1 lamb stock cube
- 75gm no soak apricots,halved
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Trim the lamb of any hard fat and cut into rough 3cm chunks, season all over with salt and pepper.
Mix the cumin, coriander, cinnamon and chilli in a bowl.
Heat oil in the tajine until is piping hot. Add the lamb, onions and garlic and stir fry over a high heat for 1 minute until lightly coloured.
Sprinkle with the spices and cook for 1-2 mins more, tossing constantly until you have a fragrant aroma. Tip the tomatoes into the casserole dish, together with the cold water, honey and chickpeas. Add the stock cube over the top and stir well.
Bring to a simmer, stirring couple of times. Cover with the lid and let cook with low heat for 60min. Open the lid and drop in the dried fruits and still well. Put back the lid and let it cook for another hour, or until the lamb is tender.
You may remember from a few posts ago a mention to Laughing Lemon’s Moroccan Feast, a tajine and The Spicery’s lamb with apricots and almonds. It was not my intention by then to start a cook off, but as I tried different recipes comparisons become inevitable.
This one is the Laughing Lemon’s take on it, probably as close as it can get from his Mother’s recipe. The ingredients are almost the same ones that The Spicery’s: lamb, honey, almonds, apricots, prunes. However, there are no tomatoes on this dish. As it turned out, it was a such sweeter and its flavours, more delicate and balanced. Probably, this take has much less spin to the original dish.
PS Please don’t say Jack I made the couscous following the instructions on the pack (plus pomegranate, mint and lemon juice).
What started with a Laughing Lemon’s cooking lesson ended up with K. and B. giving me a tajine, which eventually became very handy to try the January kit of The Spicery: a lovely lamb tajine with apricots and almonds. The Spicery – do not confuse with spice rack – is the word for the place where spices are made or stored. It is also an online shop which sells freshly ground and blended spices – really top-notch stuff. Or, puts together kits and sends them together with their recipes. I have to say I was bit skeptical when I heard about his. After 5 munches into this lamb tajine, I had to agree this was one of the best ones have ever had. If you want to try, the recipe is here. To make it work, you will really need the spices…