Tender Lamb Tagine

The tagine originates from North Africa, and normally involves a meat stew which is cooked really, really slowly until the meat is juicy and practically falling apart. This one is in the Moroccan style, which tends to include fruit, honey and a variety of spices – this might sound like a weird combination with meat, but trust me, it’s delicious. The long, slow cooking means that the fruit (peaches, in this case) almost disintegrates and spreads a lovely sweetness throughout the dish, which works really well with the rich savoury flavour of the meat.

The dish is named after the pot in which it’s cooked – see below. The tall conical lid is designed to make sure the steam condenses and returns to the stew, which stops it drying out during the long cooking period. But if you don’t have one, you can easily give this a go anyway – just pop the ingredients in a deep casserole dish and keep an eye on it, adding a bit more liquid if necessary.

500g or so of lamb – neck fillet would be good for this
1 onion
1 tin of peach slices in fruit juice, or a couple of fresh peaches with skin & stone removed
A couple of cloves of garlic
A pint or so of lamb stock
Ground cinnamon
Ground turmeric
A splash of balsamic vinegar
A tablespoon of honey
About 200g of rice, to serve

Serves 2.

Start by chopping the garlic finely, and then mix it with the lamb, adding a good sprinkle each of cinnamon and turmeric, and season well. Dice your onion and add that. Before you put the pan or tagine onto the heat, pop all the ingredients into it and add enough hot lamb stock to just cover everything. Put the lid on and stick it on a medium heat, so that it simmers gently, for 2 hours. If you’re using a saucepan, check it every now and then, and if it’s looking really dry, add some more liquid – but the point is to reduce the liquid, so don’t add any unless the ingredients are starting to stick. If you’re using a tagine, you shouldn’t need to add any more liquid.

After two hours, drain the peaches and slice them up into small chunks, and then stir them through the stew. Add a tablespoonful of honey (the clear, runny kind is best) and a good splash of balsamic vinegar. Put the lid back on and let the stew simmer for another half an hour.

Now is a good time to start thinking about your rice – see my tips on making perfect, fluffy rice on the How To page – so that it’ll be ready at the same time as the stew. When it’s done, the stew should be thick and sticky, with the meat and the fruit falling apart by itself. Serve it up with your rice and with plenty of the delicious juices – mouth-watering.