Tagine Bil Kok (Moroccan Lamb Tangine)

Lamb TangineSo, have you heard the hol­i­days are here? I gotta be honest, I’m just not in hol­iday mode yet. Thanks­giving came on us way to quick, as did the dec­o­ra­tions, and Black Friday started on Thursday this year. I’m not yet ready to roast Jack Frost on an open fire…or what­ever. So I’m staging a culi­nary protest this week. No pep­per­mint, roasted birds or people sit­ting around wearing velvet and sip­ping eggnog. I’m going exotic and spicy.

Santa’s gonna need Tums!

First on the list, Moroccan food…and my favorite tagine. While it’s not actu­ally spicy, it is darn good over cous­cous.

Tagine Bil Kok
by Kitty Morse
Cooking at the Kasbah
Serves 4

The Centre de For­ma­tion en Restau­ra­tion Tra­di­tion­nelle, a government-​​sponsored cooking school in Rabat, is ded­i­cated to pre­serving the art of tra­di­tional Moroccan gas­tronomy. The stu­dents, all young women, will go on to staff Morocco’s embassies and con­sulates around the world. This classic tagine recipe, given to me by the Centre’s former director, Mon­sieur Tamer, is part of the school’s delec­table curriculum.

2 table­spoons olive oil
1 tea­spoon ground turmeric
1 tea­spoon ground ginger
2 pounds leg of lamb, trimmed of fat and cut into 2-​​inch chunks
2 onions
1 cup chicken broth
8 threads Spanish saf­fron, toasted and crushed (see Note for instruc­tions)
15 fresh cilantro sprigs, tied with cotton string
1 cup pitted prunes
2 table­spoons honey
1 tea­spoon ground cin­namon
1/​2 tea­spoon pepper
salt to taste
1 table­spoon unhulled sesame seeds, toasted

In a small Dutch oven or enam­eled casse­role over medium-​​high heat, heat the olive oil and sauté the turmeric, ginger, and lamb until the meat is well coated and lightly browned, 2 to 3 min­utes. Finely dice one of the onions. Add it to the meat along with the broth, saf­fron, and cilantro. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-​​low. Cook until the meat is fork tender, 1 to 1 1/​2 hours. Dis­card the cilantro.

Pre­heat the oven to 200 degrees F. With a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to an oven­proof dish and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve. Bring the sauce in the casse­role back to a simmer.

Finely slice the remaining onion. Add it, along with the prunes, honey, cin­namon, and pepper to the sim­mering sauce. Season with salt. Cook until the mix­ture thickens some­what, 6 to 8 min­utes. Spoon the prune sauce over the meat and sprinkle the dish with the sesame seeds. Serve with warm bread.

Note: To toast and crush saf­fron, place threads in a small non­stick skillet and stir con­stantly over medium-​​high heat for 2 to 3 min­utes. Crush the threads between your fin­gers, or pound them in a mortar along with a pinch of salt before using.

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