Saturday, October 12, 2013

Lamb and Quince Tagine ~ a Moroccan Classic

I have been here over a month now and all I hear about is tagine this and tagine that. Every time I go to the butcher and ask for a cut of meat, he asks if it is for tagine. Until yesterday I always responded with a "no."
The day had come when I decided to try tagine for myself. I had finally acquired all the right spices to make the concoction. I had bought quince at the souk the previous week thinking I would ripen it and eat it as s fruit like we do in Lebanon but they were starting to rot before they ripened. I decided to throw them in a pot and call it a meal, just like my Moroccan neighbors.
I asked around and learned verbally the method of cooking and the necessary steps. I followed that with some online research and verified the process. Then I set to work. I eliminated the fat other than olive oil, took out the sugar, and adjusted the salt. I played around with the seasoning and came up with an adequate mix.
I peeled, cored and cut the quince. I boiled them and sweetened them. I let them stand. I worked with the meat and adjusted the spices. I tasted it often to make sure I was on the right track. I let it sit in the juices at room temperature until dinner time. I bought fresh bread, reheated the separate pots gently and served.
It was a good first effort. JR loved the meat broth and ate it as a soup, Jeff soaked it up with bread. I enjoyed the quince and marveled at JR's sense of adventure with new foods. I have nothing to compare my meal to, not having tasted it elsewhere, but I can say that what I served qualified as delicious.


  • 1 kg (about 2 lbs.) beef or lamb, cut into 2" or 3" pieces
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 kg (3 lbs.) quinces
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup water


Cook the Meat

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or a pressure cooker. Add the meat, onions, garlic, and remaining spices. Stir to mix well, and brown the meat over medium-high heat.

Add 3 cups of water. Cover, and cook with pressure for about 45 minutes or until the meat is very tender. Reserve 3 to 4 tablespoons of the broth, and reduce the remaining liquids until the sauce is thick and mostly oils.

Cook the Quinces

While the meat is cooking, prepare the quinces. Peel them, cut them into eighths, and core them.
Transfer them to a pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the quinces are tender but still firm enough to hold their shape.

Drain the quinces, reserving several tablespoons of the poaching liquid. Add the reserved broth,  cinnamon and honey. Bring to a simmer and cook until a thick syrup forms. Occasionally stir or turn the quinces to coat them with the syrup on all sides.


To Serve

Place the meat and sauce on a serving platter. Arrange the quinces all around, spooning the syrup over the meat and fruit. Serve with crusty bread to soak up the juices.


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