I preserved lemons to make this tagine recipe from Mourad’s book, “New Morocco.” Mourad describes this as,”an ultra classic Moroccan chicken dish- and a great starter recipe for test driving your new tagine.” I thought it was a great way to introduce my guests to Moroccan cuisine. The familiarity of the ingredients didn’t intimidate those who might be less interested if I had chosen the braised oxtail recipe. The chicken was tender, and fell off the bone. The lemons and green olives provided unexpected pops of flavor. The real star of the meal was my pottery tagine. It seared, sauted, simmered, and served the meal. My favorite part is when the lid is lifted, and a whoosh of heat and steam give anyone standing too close an instant facial.
Tagine aux Pruneaux
This is one of the 3 finalists for our Tagine Recipe Contest. Our judges described this dish as a unique combination of distinct flavors and textures.
Tagine aux Pruneaux
4 pounds lamb shoulder de-boned
1 pound prunes
1/2 pounds whole almonds
1 1/4 cups green olives cured in olive oil
1 1/4 cups large raisins (go to the food co-op)
4-5 Tablespoons olive oil
1 16 oz. can diced tomato or 3 fresh tomatoes in season
2 large white onions
2 cinnamon sticks
Moroccan spices: 1 tsp white pepper, 1 T ginger, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, 3 whole cloves, 2 T cumin
1 T orange flower water (optional)
The lamb should be cut into large chunks of about 2″ square. In your tagine, sear the pieces of meat in a little oil. Remove and saute the onions lightly until translucent, then add meat, enough water to cover, the tomatoes, the spices, and a little salt to taste. Let this come to a boil, then simmer covered for about 1 1/2- 2 hours, or until the meat is tender. Check the seasoning. If it tastes bland, as spices as needed. Be careful not to add too much pepper.
Take a ladle or 2 of the meat juice and add it to the prunes in a sauce pan. Add a ladle to the raisins and olives mixed together in a different saucepan. Cook these each gently for about 15 minutes. While they are cooking, boil the eggs and toast the almonds in a frying pan.
Now it is time to build the dish, and particular architecture is demanded. Place the meat mixture in the bottom of the tagine, top with prunes, then the olive raisin mixture, and finally arrange the halved boiled eggs and sprinkle with almonds. Add some juice and gently boil in the tagine for about 15 minutes, so that all the elements have been cooked through but not cooked so long as to lose their individual flavors. 8 servings