Greedy Foodster

Glutton's rant about experiencing life and it's good, great and ugly eats

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February 2014

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Feeling the heat

Written by , Posted in Bay leaf, Beef, Caserole, Fruit, Glasgow, Lamb, Seasonal eats - Februaly, Stew, Winter cooking

Lamb Tagine

Winter is at full swing in Scotland and I’m in need of some real heat. What better than a quick jump to Morocco? Well…symbolically…with a Tagine that is.
I love getting curled up on the sofa with a bowlful of comforting, hearty, soulful, steaming hot stew. It’s what winter is all about! The heating is turned up to 27C, perfect t-shirt temperature and glancing at the frozen, shivering layered-up passer-byers out the window puts a smirk on my face :-)
Ha, and things are about to get a whole lot better for me, as I am about to pull out the Tagine from the oven and dive in, literally head first!
The house has been filling with wonderful aromas for the good part of the afternoon and I’m slevering (that’s Scots for salivating like mad, hah) all over the place.
Cinnamon, bay leaf, honey; wholesome earthiness and a bit of heat from the chillies at the back of the nose….Fantastic!

I’ve always been a big fan of fruity stews. I adore the mellowness that dried fruit gives to the meat. It takes the pleasure up a notch while it melts in your mouth..

I want to try something different this time though. I’ve made plenty of Tagines in my “cooking life”, it’s a fave that has a top spot in my entertaining-friends-menu, but I always seem to stick to the same old, well rehearsed recipe that really works….I guess we are all guilty of that. And why not? Remember the saying – if it works, why change it? Hmm, let’s see; cause I’m bored of it? Cause I can’t help but want more and more out of my food the older (and wiser ahhaha) I get? Cause experimenting with flavours and textures gives me a great buzz? Ok, Ok, I’ll go get a life now! But first, let me devour that lamb shoulder…..

Chunky is the call of the day. I’ve got a lovely piece of meat and plenty of veg to go round. A cupboard full of spices will compliment it just beautifully. Lets go!
Looks like a rather full table doesn’t it? I love it already! Lamb, onions, garlic, pepper, leek, sweet potato, carrots, ginger, tomatoes and dried fruit

Lamb TagineAnd as it is chunky, the meat, carrots and onions are staying whole, and the rest gets chopped coarselyLamb Tagine

A closer view at the spices going in; Harissa, black pepper, saffron, bay leaf, chillies, palm sugar, smoky sea salt and fragrant cinnamon sticks
Lamb Tagine

The spices are getting a special treatment: The Harissa and the saffron strands mingle with a generous splash of olive oil and the black pepper, chopped chillies, salt and sugar get a good bash upLamb Tagine

The real action begins in a heavy, oversized pan: Onions, garlic, grated ginger and chopped leek start popping under the heat. The Harissa flavoured oil goes inLamb Tagine

Then the tempestuous salt-chilli-sugar crush. The aroma excites the nose straight away…WOW!! Then one by one the rest of the veggies come to play. Carrots…Lamb TagineThen sweet potatoes….Lamb Tagine

And finally the reds: pepper and tomatoesLamb Tagine

How beautiful is that! After a couple of minutes “coating” in the flawing juices in the pan, the veggies are ready to take their place in a deep casserole dish. Let them rest there, while the attention turns to the lovely piece of lamb shoulder – the prime guest! I season it lightly with some sea salt and lay it in the same pan the vegetables just came out from. All the flavours are still hanging in there, ready to be picked up!Lamb TagineCouple of minutes on each side over high heat should do in nicely. Sweep the pan with the meat to gather all the little leftover bits. Look at that now!Lamb TagineIt’s just longing for a sweet kissLamb Tagine

Perfection! Toss quickly to caramelize and take the pan off the heat to prevent the honey from burning. Rest the meat in the casserole, nesting neatly in between the lovely vegetablesLamb Tagine

Back to the pan – de-glaze it with 2 pints of lamb (beef) stock, returning over the hot stove, scraping away all the tasty caramelized bits from the bottom.
Add the bay leaf, red chilli cinamon stich and grate in half a nutmeg.Lamb TagineBring to boil and after a minute add the chopped dried fruitLamb Tagine

Bring to boil again to allow the fruit to release some of its sweetness into the stockLamb Tagine

Now its ready to join the rest of the crew in the caseroleLamb Tagine

And here is where the waiting game begins!Lamb Tagine

Cover with a lid and put in a preheated oven (180C/Gas 4) for 3 hrs.
Now do yourself a favour; Go out and have a walk. Or a drink in the pub with friends (I’d recommend the second, cause if you are walking you are still gonna be thinking about that Tagine….) And then, rosy-cheeked from the “only one glass” you’ve had, you get to come home to this:Lamb Tagine

And trust me when I say – the picture doesn’t do it justice! You have to smell it! And to taste it! And to melt into it…..It’s just too good..Lamb Tagine

Here is a quick recap on the ingredients:

Half shoulder of lamb, roughly 850gr, bone in – the marrow does wonders for a deeper, fuller flavour
400 gr sweet potato, cubed
300gr baby onions, peeled
150 gr Chantenay carrots, peeled
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 red pepper, roughly chopped
1 leek, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 mild red chilli, whole, scored
2 birds eye chillies, chopped
5 cm fresh ginger root, grated

Spices:
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaf
1 tbsp Harissa spice
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp smoked sea salt
1 tbsp palm sugar
2 tbsp honey
pinch of saffron
1l lamb (beef) stock
Olive oil

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