I don’t use my slow cooker nearly enough, but when I do I always love the results. It’s a no-brainer really… wonderful tasting food that can be prepared earlier in the day so you can relax in the evening.
I had heard of the word ‘tagine’ before but assumed it referred specifically to the Moroccan style cooking vessel. And, as I couldn’t afford one of those, I never bothered to look at tagine recipes. Au contraire! I now realise that the word tagine also refers to the dish itself, i.e. a North African style slow-cooked spicy stew. And it seems, from the many recipes available on the internet, that plenty of people are making them and not necessarily with an actual tagine. Once I found this out, I searched for tagine recipes in earnest!
Amongst a number of delectable looking possibilities, I found this Lamb, Orange & Prune Tagine recipe from New Zealand chef Jo Seagar. I loved the combination of flavours and the result didn’t disappoint. And, I have to say, it was even better the following day once all the flavours had a chance to amalgamate.
I made very few changes to the recipe. I increased the orange zest to a tablespoon and when extra water was needed to keep the mixture moist, I used orange juice instead (can you tell I’m obsessed with orange??). I also added a handful of chick-peas just for the added goodness. In hindsight, I think sliced almonds might work better than whole ones, as they felt a bit bulky to eat. And, in the same vein, I’d recommend cutting up the prunes before adding them – I think they provide more bang for buck when you can taste their sweetness steadily throughout the meal, rather than eating a whole one on its own every few mouthfuls. And, just to add, if you don’t like prunes, substitute something you do like, like apricots or figs, for example.
With regards cooking time and temperature, I think it completely depends on what you’re cooking your tagine in – I cooked mine in a bench-top multi-cooker on a slow simmer and it took about two hours. I added more liquid than specified in the recipe as well, so I’d definitely urge you to go by intuition when you’re cooking this. Finally, don’t let the long list of ingredients put you off… the taste is fabulous and well worth the effort.
LAMB, ORANGE & PRUNE TAGINE
Ingredients: (Click here for Unit Converter)
- 1 kilogram lean lamb (preferably cut from the shoulder and cubed into 2-3cm pieces)
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 6 cloves (2 teaspoons) of garlic crushed
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon chopped or 1 teaspoon dried (or substitute your own favourite herb)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1&1/2 cups water or chicken stock
- 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 tablespoon grated orange rind (about one orange)
- Half a cup chickpeas (optional)
- 15 pitted prunes (orange flavoured prunes would be great to use)
- 2 tablespoons clear liquid honey
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup whole blanched almonds, or sliced almonds
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup raisins
- Heat oil in a large fry-pan, casserole dish or slow-cooker (or tagine if you have one). Add lamb, onion and garlic – stir over medium heat for 3-4 minutes then add the spices and herbs, water, orange juice and grated rind. Add in the chickpeas if using. Stir to mix well and pour into a large covered casserole.
- Cook for 1 1/2 hours at 160°C (320°F)* (or cook according to your style of cooker, as appropriate). Stir every now and then and add more water if the mixture is getting too dry (I added more orange juice for more flavour).
- When the cooking process is nearly done, season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper, add the liquid honey and prunes and cook for 10 more minutes.
- In the meantime, toast the almonds and sesame seeds (adding the seeds in last as they cook more quickly) in a small fry-pan until golden brown. Add the raisins, swirl the pan around to warm them then add to the meat mixture.
- Serve with rice, quinoa or couscous.
* Just be aware that cooking temperatures and time will depend on what you’re cooking your tagine in, so use your own judgement on this.
Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Canon 50mm 1.8 lens / Natural lighting