I’ve come to realize that pretty much everything I make in my Moroccan tagine is bound to come out delicious—much like in my favorite Dutch oven. And the two cooking vessels really aren’t that different: Both are made for braising and their lids are similarly designed to send steam back down into the food, keeping it incredibly moist and creating a really flavorful sauce. Because of this, you can actually use a Dutch oven for any of the tagine recipes I have on the site, including the chicken tagine featured in this post, Moroccan Dreams, Chicken Tagine.
For this go-round with the tagine, my friend Carol, who bought me the tagine as an engagement gift, provided the recipe. And it wasn’t just any recipe—it was a recipe from her favorite Moroccan restaurant in Paris, France. Of course, I took it and changed it up a bit and added snippets of other recipes I liked to it, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t inspirational.
I have to say, I hadn’t ever made a dish like this before. This flavors of this Lamb Tagine with Prune and Almonds are pretty unbelievable, just like in the chicken tagine dish I made several months ago. Although they have terrible street cred, prunes are pretty tasty and their concentrated fruit flavor cuts through the gaminess of the meat, adding a pleasant sweetness to the dish.
Like with much of my cooking, the flavor punch here comes from herbs and spices. In particular, I got my hands on some Ras El Hanout, which translates to “top of the shop” in Arabic. It’s a blend of 10 to 100 (that’s probably an exaggeration) of the shop’s best spices, including saffron, and one whiff of it transports me to a faraway land. It’s sweet and savory at the same time, with hints of warm cinnamon and nutmeg, spicy cloves and earthy turmeric, my new favorite spice.
Can’t you tell I’m in love? (Doug, you better watch out, or a spice blend might steal me away!)
Almonds and hard-boiled eggs are served as accompaniments to this lamb tagine, although I burnt my almonds (oops!), so they don’t appear in the photos. The eggs, however, are not us weird in this one-pot meal as they seem. In fact, they blend really well with this dish, adding a creamy bit and some extra protein to stretch the dish to feed a few more.
Expect to see more lamb dishes in the future because, baby, I’m feeling the lamb love right now. I’m even getting some Australian lamb sent to me as part of FoodBuzz’s Tastemaker program! Wohoo!
Lamb & Prune Tagine
You can always make this dish in a Dutch oven or another heavy-bottomed pot if you don’t own a tagine. Serve with couscous and a salad. Click here to download the printable
1 large pinch of saffron
3 Tbs. water
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2.5 lb lamb shoulder or leg, cleaned, trimmed and cut into bite-size cubes
Vegetable or canola oil
2 cinnamon sticks
2 onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs. Ras el Hanout
½ tsp. ground ginger
1 quart (32 oz.) low-sodium beef broth or water
4 Tbs. sugar
½ lb. (8 oz.) dried prunes, halved
2/3 c. sliver, blanched almonds, toasted
3 Tbs. cilantro, chopped
3 Tbs. parsley, chopped
4 hard-boiled eggs
Bloom saffron. Mix saffron with 3–4 tablespoons of water. Set aside. Cook lamb. Season lamb with salt and pepper. Brown the lamb in batches in a tagine or pot set over high heat with 2 tablespoons of hot oil and the 2 cinnamon sticks, adding extra oil to the pan as needed. Remove the browned lamb from the pot and set aside.
Build the tagine. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the leftover fat and return the pan with the cinnamon sticks to the stovetop. Fry the garlic in the hot oil for 1 minute. Add the onion, fry for 3 minutes. Stir in the saffron solution and the ground ginger, and season with salt and pepper. Add the lamb back to pan. Add beef broth to the pan until the lamb is two-thirds of the way covered. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook over medium-low heat.
Add prunes. After 30 minutes, add the sugar and the prunes to the tagine. Cover it again and let it simmer for 15 minutes more or until the meat is cooked through and the sauce has reduced.
Garnish and serve. Sprinkle the tagine with the toasted almonds, parsley and cilantro. Cut the eggs in half and arrange them around the tagine. Serve at the table directly from the pot.