Sunday, 21 August 2011

The Best Lamb Tagine. In the world. Ever. Amen.

What a fate this lamb neck had in store...
It's very easy to get carried away whilst cooking, to swerve from the recipe, add your own touches, either because you know better or you think you know better. Nearly all recipes 'need' more garlic, more chilli, more this, more that, but I've recently learned that sometimes the softly softly approach to flavour can also be fantastic.  Having recently purchased the new Moro cookbook (called Casa Moro), I am obsessively making and munching my way through the simple but beautiful recipes from Spain, very much including the Moorish influences there, and many dishes from Morrocco. It ain't all about Chorizo you know. I made this lamb tagine with peas and tomatoes and was blown away by it's simplicity and incredible flavour. I stuck to the recipe, not straying once in terms of quantities. It's always better to use lamb on the bone, but I had some lamb neck fillets which were fine.

Feeds four. In a big pan glugged with warming olive oil, combine 2 tsp freshly ground cumin seeds (don't be lazy and use ground cumin), 1 cinnamon stick, 1 tsp sweet paprika, 1/4 teaspoon hot paprika, 2 chopped red onions, 2 peeled tomatoes, roughly chopped, and season. cook for about 10 minutes and throw in the lamb. 3 shanks would be great, or chunks of neck on the bone, approx 750g (if you have a nice butcher nearby, which sadly I don't). Stir well and add 1 litre cold water and a pinch of saffron threads infused in 2 tbsp boiling water. Cover and simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours, add 600g fresh peas (enlist the use of a slave to help pod the buggers) and simmer uncovered, for a further 20-30 mins until the lamb is super soft and melty.

This tagine tastes so fresh and surprisingly delicate, the perfume of the cinnamon combines so perfectly with the sweet lamb and peas, my normal bucket of garlic would have completely drowned out these well balanced flavours. Just delicious. Am supposed to be avoiding carbs at the moment due to an ever expanding waistline, but to have abstained from a big spoonful of cous-cous would surely have been a massive insult to the food Gods, and I just couldn't risk that...

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