This lamb tagine came about because a recent special from Barb’s Butchery landed us with a nice package of lamb stew. Turned out to be beautiful meat–tender and flavorful and made this a terrific dish.
- 4 pounds bone-in lamb-shoulder or neck, or 2 1/4 pounds boneless lamb stew meat, cut into 2-inch chunks
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 large Spanish onions, peeled and quartered
- 2 cinnamon sticks, each 2 inches long
- Large pinch crumbled saffron
- 1 ¼ cups dried apricots, sliced
- 1 cup cracked green olives, pitted and sliced if desired
- 2 to 4 tablespoons butter
- ⅓ cup sliced almonds
- Cooked couscous, for serving
- Chopped parsley or cilantro, for garnish
Preheat oven to 325°.
Trim excess fat from lamb. Put meat in a deep Dutch oven with the garlic, salt, black pepper, paprika, ginger and cumin. Rub spices and garlic evenly all over meat.
Thinly slice onions, then mince enough of them to yield 1/2 cup. Add minced onion to pot with lamb; reserve onion slices.
Place pot over high heat and let cook, turning meat on all sides, until spices release their scent, about 3 minutes. Meat does not need to be browned. Add 3 cups water to pot (it should come 3/4 of the way up lamb), along with cinnamon and saffron. Bring to a simmer, then cover pot and transfer to oven. Let braise for 45 minutes.
Turn meat, then top with onion slices. Cover pot and braise for another 45 minutes to an hour, or until lamb is very tender. Use a slotted spoon to transfer meat to a bowl, leaving broth and onions in pot.
Place pot on stove over high heat and add 3/4 cup apricots and the olives. Simmer broth until it reduces by a third and thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Return lamb to pot and keep warm until serving.
To serve, chop remaining 1/2 cup apricot slices. In a small skillet, melt butter. Add almonds and cook until well browned and toasted, about 2 minutes. Put couscous in a serving bowl and top with almonds and butter and chopped apricots. Pile tagine in center of couscous and garnish with herbs. Serve and enjoy!
Well Frank’s actually, “this is one of the best tagines you’ve ever made”. The lamb made this dish—tender and flavorful, it melted in your mouth. I swapped pine nuts for the almonds and that was fine. Next time, maybe fewer apricots and some preserved lemon, sliced into slivers.
I used Castelvetrano olives and they might have been a little too subtle for the dish. The green olives looked good, but any combo of black and green would work fine. This is probably a way of saying that the dish needed salt, or in Frank’s case, harissa.
You can make this ahead of time and just finish it while the couscous is cooking.