Moroccan Lamb or Chicken Stew

 

Moroccan Lamb Tagine

This recipe works as well on the buffet for a crowd or ladled up in to big bowls at the table. Most of it is easily prepared ahead of time and the long slow cooking will fill the house with inviting aromas.  Serve alone or with Mediterranean couscous, buckwheat or rice.   This recipe is adapted from one of Paula Wolfert’s recipes. It can easily adapt for a slow cooker, adding everything to the browned meat and simmering on low for 3-4 hours. 

3 pounds lamb stew meat, cut into 1 ½ inch pieces 
OR 
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in 1 1/2 in pieces
1 cup onions, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
¼ cup olive oil
24 ounces canned diced tomatoes
16 ounces canned chick peas, drained
1 cup dried apricots, cut into slivers
8 ounces green or kalamata olives, pitted and cut into 2 or three pieces
1 large butternut squash, cut into one inch cubes 
2  cups lamb or chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup lemon juice
 Optional garnishes:
1 cup walnuts, toasted
12 ounces feta cheese, crumbled, preferably sheep’s milk
4 ounces fresh spinach, sliced thinly
Harissa sauce or your favorite hot sauce to pass separately

Method:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a small bowl, blend together the spices.    In another bowl, mix the spices  and onions thoroughly with the cubes of lamb. (You may prepare the recipe up to this point several hours in advance of the cooking.)  Heat the olive oil in a flameproof 4-5 quart casserole dish or pot.  Add the garlic and onions and the lamb mixture.  Stir until meat begins to brown. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the lemon juice and bring the mixture to a boil. Immediately cover the pot or casserole and place it in the oven.  When the meat is very tender and the squash is done about (1 1/2 hours) remove from oven and skim any excess fat from the top. You can prepare ahead and reheat later at this point. Taste for seasoning and add lemon juice as appropriate. Serve alone or over over couscous in warm bowls and pass optional garnishes and harissa sauce for your guests to use. You may also add your favorite bottled hot sauce to taste as a substitute for the harissa sauce.

Serves 8

Mediterranean Couscous

I like to use the Mediterranean style couscous which is actually small pearl-like pasta.  It can be founding in most groceries and gourmet stores.  Use about 12- 16 ounces for this lamb recipe and follow the directions on the package.  It cooks quickly in broth and is nice to garnish with chopped parsley, mint or basil and a splash of olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper.

Harissa Sauce

1 tablespoon ground coriander 
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup olive oil

In a small bowl, mix together the dry spices. Peel the garlic cloves and press them through a garlic press into the dry spices. Add the oil and mix well. Store the sauce covered in the refrigerator. It should keep for several weeks. This sauce is very hot!  Care should be taken in mixing and in serving it to your guests.

Yield: About 1/4 cup