SATURDAY COOKING: MOROCCAN LAMB TAGINE WITH PRESERVED LEMON, FIG AND EGGPLANT.

As if I don’t have enough cookbooks, I bought some new ones at Christmas (and received some too).
This recipe comes from “In the kitchen” by Simmone Logue. It is a great book and I’m sure I will try many recipes from it.
This dish serves 8. As often, there are a lot of ingredients, but the recipe is very easy to make and it is delicious!
I made it a couple of weeks ago, when we had a “cold” spell in the middle of summer here.

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2 eggplants, diced
olive oil, for drizzling and pan-frying
2 red capsicums, diced
1 kg diced lamb shoulder
2 brown onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
1 bunch (90g) coriander, roots washed and chopped; leaves and stalks chopped separately
4 fresh bay leaves
3 cinnamon sticks
6 cardamom pods, crushed
6 cloves
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoon tomato paste (concentrated purée)
400g tin chopped tomatoes
500ml chicken stock
1/2 preserved lemon, pulp discarded, skin finely chopped
125g dried figs, chopped
2 tablespoon chopped mint
1 teaspoon sea salt

Method:

    1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
    2. Spread the eggplant and capsicum on the baking tray and drizzle with 4 tablespoons olive oil. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. and bake for 15 minutes, or until a little caramelised. Remove from the oven and set aside.
    3. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan or flameproof casserole dish over high heat. Brown the lamb in two batches, for about 5 minutes each time, or until browned all over. Remove to a plate and set aside.
    4. In the same pan, heat another 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat, then stir in the onion, garlic, celery and carrot. Add the ginger, coriander root, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cardamom, cloves and ground spices and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. stir in the tomato paste and cook for a further 2 minutes.
    5. Return the lamb to the pan, along with any collected juices. Stir in the tomatoes, stock and preserved lemon. Cover with a piece of baking paper; this is called a cartouche and helps retain the moisture level in the tagine. Put the lid on, then cook as slowly as your stovetop will allow for 1½ hours. Add the figs  and roasted eggplant and capsicum and cook for a further 30 minutes.
    6. Just before serving, stir in the mint, salt and chopped coriander leaves and stalks. Serve with couscous or rice.
    7. Eat!

I used smoked paprika instead of sweet paprika. I put 1/2 cup of preserved lemons in the casserole (and my recipe for preserved lemons is on this blog, check the recipe index). I used dried bay leaves.
I cooked the eggplant and capsicum for about 1/2 hour until they were a bit soft.
I made sure to keep all the juices from browning the meat.
I cooked the onion, garlic, celery and carrot for about 10 minutes until softened. I think that by adding straight away the dry spices you will end up with quite a dry mixture in your pan and the vegetables won’t soften up very well. If it’s too dry, just add a little bit of the meat juices.
And as always, I cooked the casserole in the oven at 160°C for about 2½ hours with the cartouche. Then I added the eggplant, capsicum and figs and cooked it for another 30 minutes.
Have to say, I forgot to add the mint at the end…but did put the coriander on top!
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