Tuesday, 13 December 2011

150 Best Tagine Recipes

150 Best Tagine Recipes
Including Tantalizing Recipes for Spice Blends and Accompaniments
by Pat Crocker

Paperback, 224 pages

Do you... tagine? I have to admit, I have a love affair with these beautiful cooking vessels and the deeply fragrant dishes that they produce.  In North American cookware stores they come in two basic varieties: cast iron bottomed ones that can be used on the stove-top and in the oven, and the glazed and unglazed terra cotta or ceramic ones that are used in the oven only. They are generally brightly coloured and often have intricate painting on them. I think they are beautiful just to look at - but of course they are wonderful to cook with too.

 Cast iron bottomed tagine, safe for stove-top cooking and oven cooking.

 Glazed and unglazed terra cotta or ceramic tagines
are good for the oven but not stove-top. 
Unglazed ones (plain like flowerpots) need to be soaked first.

Tagines make great Christmas presents! 
Santa? Are you reading this?

Pat Crocker de-mystifies tagine cooking and makes it accessible to the North American cook. In 150 Best Tagine Recipes she introduces us to the flavours and ingredients of North Africa and offers tons of delicious recipes for all different kinds of tagines as well as condiments, sauces, sides, salads, beverages and even desserts!

The flavours of tagine cooking are warm and complex, leaving little need for extra salt. This makes tagine cooking one of the healthiest ways to eat - unless you are like me and sneak a little salt in anyway. Ahem. Don't tell my doc.

You can spice up your serving to taste with the traditional condiments - my favourites being harissa (traditional Moroccan spicy hot sauce) and preserved lemon. Seriously, I would be tempted to put them on just about anything. I love that kind of table-side dressing up of my meals. And as I like my foods hotter than... just about anyone else I eat with - I can tailor the heat on my own plate. Perfect!

The author uses the stove-top method for browning and cooking the ingredients to cater to the modern kitchen, but the recipes are easily adaptable for oven cooking for those of use with more delicate tagines.

We had an all-tagine weekend and whipped up these gloriously fragrant dishes: Beef Tagine with Squash and Beets, and Golden Chicken with Potatoes and Chickpeas. Delicious! I made the Buttered Almond Couscous, Harissa, and Preserved Lemon to accompany them. I love a cuisine with accessories. ☺

Beef Tagine with Squash and Beets

Rustic and hearty, this warming winter tagine uses ginger and hot chile pepper for a touch of spicy heat.

Tip: I recommend the use of organic, cold-pressed extra virgin avocado oil in the tagine recipes in this book because it is excellent for medium to high heat cooking. Unlike other polyunsaturated oils, olive oil in particular, avocado oil does not break down under high heat cooking. It is an excellent source of vitamin E and contains beneficial omega-3, 6 and 9 fatty acids.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Medium or large tagine

3 tbsp    avocado or olive oil    45 mL
1    onion, cut in half and sliced    1
1 tbsp    Ras el Hanout (page 50) or hot sauce    15 mL
1 lb    cubed stewing beef    500 g
4    cloves garlic, crushed    4
1    hot chile pepper, chopped, or    1
    1 dried cayenne pepper, crushed
1    slice candied ginger, chopped    1
4    medium beets, quartered    4
2 cups    diced squash    500 mL
1 cup    beef broth    250 mL
2    oranges, cut into segments    2
2 cups    fresh or frozen chopped Swiss chard    500 mL
1⁄2 cup    chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf    125 mL
    parsley


1.    In the bottom of a flameproof tagine, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and ras el hanout and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add beef, garlic, chile pepper and ginger, stirring well to coat beef with vegetables and seasonings. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 to 10 minutes or until beef is browned on all sides.

2.    Add beets, squash and broth and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover with tagine lid, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Add oranges and Swiss chard, replace lid and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Beef should cut easily with a fork and if not quite tender, replace cover and cook until beef is tender. Garnish with parsley.

Golden Chicken with Potatoes and Chickpeas
Makes 4 to 6 servings

Two colorful and aromatic spices combine in this beautiful dish for tastes fit for a sultan. Chickpeas and potatoes give substance to the tagine, which carries the meal.

Tip: For chicken pieces, you can use breasts, legs, thighs or drumsticks.

Medium or large tagine

3 tbsp    melted butter    45 mL
20    strands saffron    20
1 tbsp    ground turmeric    15 mL
3 tbsp    avocado or olive oil    45 mL
2    onions, cut into quarters    2
4    medium potatoes, cut into wedges    4
4 to 6     skinless bone-in chicken pieces    4 to 6
    (about 21⁄2 lbs/1.25 kg) (see Tip, left)
1 cup    chicken broth    250 mL
1    piece (2 inches/5 cm) cinnamon stick    1
1    can (14 to 19 oz/398 to 540 mL)     1
    chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1⁄4 cup    chopped flat-leaf parsley    60 mL


1.    In a bowl, combine melted butter, saffron and turmeric. Set aside.

2.    In the bottom of a flameproof tagine, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and potatoes and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add spice mixture and chicken, meaty side down, sliding around and moving vegetables away from bottom so that flesh is in direct contact with bottom of tagine. Cook for about 5 minutes or until chicken is browned on meaty side.

3.    Using tongs, turn chicken over. Add broth and cinnamon stick and bring to a boil. Cover with tagine lid, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring once, for 25 minutes.

4.    Stir in chickpeas and parsley. Replace lid and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until chickpeas are heated through and chicken is longer pink inside for breasts and juices run clear for thighs. Discard cinnamon stick prior to serving.

Up next on my to-make list is this gorgeous Cinnamon Lamb Tagine with Apricots, I can almost smell it already!

Cinnamon Lamb Tagine with Apricots

Cinnamon is one of the key ingredients in North African spice blends. Here its sweetness is balanced by the tartness of the dried apricots.

Tip: For this quantity of cooked chickpeas, soak and cook 1⁄2 cup (125 mL) dried chickpeas or use 1 cup (250 mL) canned, drained and rinsed.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Medium or large tagine

3 tbsp    avocado or olive oil    45 mL
1    onion, cut into quarters    1
1 tbsp    Moroccan Cinnamon Spice Blend    15 mL
    (page 47) or store-bought
    garam masala
11⁄2 lbs    boneless lamb leg, trimmed and cubed     750 g
2     cloves garlic, chopped    2
1     can (14 oz/398 mL) diced tomatoes    1
    with juice
2    carrots, cut into coins    2
1    medium zucchini, chopped    1
1⁄2 cup    sliced dried apricots    125 mL
1 cup    cooked chickpeas, drained     250 mL
    (see Tip, left)
1 tbsp    liquid honey    15 mL

1.    In the bottom of a flameproof tagine, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add spice blend, lamb and garlic, stirring to coat lamb with vegetables and seasonings. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 7 minutes or until lamb is browned on all sides.

2.    Add tomatoes with juice, carrots, zucchini and apricots and bring liquids to a boil, stirring frequently. Cover with tagine lid, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.

3.    Stir in chickpeas and honey, replace lid and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until lamb is tender. Lamb should cut easily with a fork and if not quite tender, replace cover and simmer until tender.


Recipes excerpted from 150 Best Tagine Recipes by Pat Crocker © 2011 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. 

photos of the empty tagines are from nextstep.com