This tagine is a spin-off of a chicken dish found in one of the Silver Palate cookbooks. While the original was not thought of as a masterpiece, its prunes, olives, and capers were enough to inspire the author to greater things.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
• 2 pounds boneless lamb stew meat (shoulder works well), cut into 1" cubes
• 3 teaspoon ras-el-hanout (Moroccan spice mix) or 1 teaspoon each of ground cumin, ground paprika, ginger, and cinnamon • 2 teaspoons hot chili flakes
• 1 onion, roughly chopped • 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
• 3 garlic cloves, minced • 1 cinnamon stick
• 3 saffron threads • 2 ½ cups beef stock, chicken stock, or water
• ¾ cup raisins • ¾ cup prunes, chopped
• ½ cup pitted olives (I like to use black olives but not from a jar, if at all possible, as I find them completely lacking in flavor) • ¼ cup blanched almonds, roughly chopped
• ¼ cup honey • salt and pepper
• olive oil
In a bowl, combine lamb and spices, tossing to coat. In a Dutch oven, heat olive oil and brown lamb, in batches. Transfer the meat, with a slotted spoon, to a plate and put aside.
Add onion, carrot, and garlic to Dutch oven and sweat out until onion is translucent. Add lamb, saffron, and cinnamon, and cover with stock/water. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cover, cooking approximately one and a half hours, or until the lamb is tender. For the last half hour of cooking, add raisins, prunes, olives, honey, and almonds.
Once lamb is tender, uncover and cook over high heat, stirring until the sauce cooks down and coats back of a spoon, approximately 15 minutes. Serve over couscous or with a piece of crusty bread, and Easy Peasy Tzatziki.
Note: You can prepare the tagine up to one day in advance and keep it in your fridge.