Lamb, prune & apricot slow-cooked tagine with grilled aubergine and couscous

 

Since returning from morocco at the end of last year I’ve been desperate to slow-cook some lamb – Moroccan style.

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Not only because I had bought enough dishes to feed a dance troupe, but I’d also never once found a tagine in Morocco that tasted as good as my homemade crock pot tagine and I had given myself cravings for it.

In Morocco (Marrakech and Essaouira) the tagines on offer were far dryer and much less tender than my concoction – strange for a place so famous for this dish.

So, this is my take on lamb tagine, complete with apricots and prunes, and sneakily served in a tagine to make it look more authentic than an electronic pot.

I served it over couscous with a side of sweet and spicy, soft-middle, crunchy-skinned aubergines.

The longest part of the process is the food shop beforehand, although most of these parts are herbs and spices which you may find lurking in your cupboard already. The actual prep takes very little time and then it cooks while you get on with your life which is just brilliant!

On with the recipe…

RECIPE (serves 4)
Prep time: 10 minutes
THEN approx 8 hours cooking
Final prep: 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS
LAMB:
2lb lamb (due to the time cooking you can get pretty much any cut!)
1 cup dates
1 cup dried apricots, halved
1 white onion, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaped tbsp cornflour (mixed in 1/2 cup water)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
300 ml/7 fl oz hot lamb stock
1 tbsp runny honey

ROAST AUBERGINE
750g eggplant (about 2 medium-large), peeled
50ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon for frying
3 small cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tblsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tbsp runny honey
2 tsp tomato paste
2 tbsp lemon juice
1  tsp sea salt

COUSCOUS
2 cups couscous
2 cups chicken stock (check couscous instructions but this is usually what they suggest)
1 can chick peas
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 glug olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinamon
2 tsp smoked paprika

Parsley / Cilantro and yoghurt to serve

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

So there are all kinds of ways to cook a lamb tagine, but when you’re cooking the lamb so, so slowly there are a number of processes that I think you can skip and no one will really know the difference (such as sealing the meat in a pan beforehand). I have kept this one of THE most simple recipes with one of THE most cracking set of flavours. I had compliments from every single person who tasted it, even down to my “very honest” (not always in a good way) housemate who admitted I really had to make this again – and pronto!

Ideally, the night before you want this, chop up all your ingredients, cling film them in separate bowls and pop them in the fridge. This means that you can wake up, roll out of bed, whip off the cling film and whap it all in the pot. Job done.

Turn the pot to a low heat, pop the lid on and leave it.

Go to work, enjoy your day, don’t even think about your dinner.

It is still right there at home, cooking itself.

Doing its thang.

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7 / 8 / 9 hours later (9 is the magic number for me but when we’re talking hours not minutes, it’s less about precision cooking and more about what works around your schedule!) you come home to a house smelling absolutely divine.

Get your aubergines cut up (I halve the aubergines through their middles then slice each end into 8 chunks) and throw them in a well-oiled roasting tin at 180 degrees.

Leave them cooking for 45 minute.

With all this time on my hands, I had the girls over for a run – it was the perfect amount of time to jog around the park whilst having a really good catch up. I ADORE the bridges near me so we did my ’round the bridges’ loop:

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Photo: Nick Redman

 

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Photo: Trip Advisor

 

Back at home, things were hotting up – and we were starving!

Pop all the remaining ‘AUBERGINE’ ingredients in a pan over a medium heat and fry off. Now you just need to take your aubergines out the oven pan and throw them into this mix. The extra time on the hob really crisps them up and the flavours soak through them, giving them a sort of sweet, tangy, spice flavour that I cannot get enough of!

IMG_6240For the couscous, pour the hot stock over the couscous in a large bowl then cover with a tea cloth for 5 minutes.

Then, add the cut up the garlic and remaining ingredients into the couscous and stir through.

To serve, plate up the couscous first, then top with the meat straight from the slow cooker.  I used my tagine dish for aesthetics only,rather than to cook in – I think this is the best way to treat it, and with a sprinkle of chopped parsley it’s ready to serve. Plate up the aubergine and a bowl of yoghurt and you’re ready to go.

Enjoy!

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