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 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
A splash of balsamic vinegar
About 200g of rice, to serve
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.