Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter Noms

Since Mr. ShellHawk and I came back from Cancun on the Thursday before Easter, we really didn't feel like hosting a big dinner as per usual. I did, however, make a special dinner with Mr. ShellHawk, which included this recipe for Tajine D'Agneau Mrouzia, a Moroccan lamb stew traditionally made for "Feast of the Lamb." This recipe makes enough for six to eight people, and even people who don't like lamb love this dish. You can usually ask for lamb shoulder at the butcher counter at your local grocery store.

3 lbs. lamb shoulder
5 oz. black seedless raisins
5 oz. white seedless raisins
8 oz whole blanched and toasted almonds
2 medium onions, chopped coarsely
1TB of a mixture of the following (known in Morocco as Ras el Hanout)
4 parts mace4 parts nutmeg (I grind mine fresh)1 part allspice2 parts paprika
2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. saffron
2 tsp. cinnamon
8 oz. butter
1/2 cup honey


Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.

Cut meat into pieces about 5 oz. each. Mix the Ras el Hanout with the ginger, saffron and pepper, and 1 cup water. Take half the mixture and in a separate dish, dip the meat into it, putting each piece in an oven-safe cooking pot. Salt to taste, add butter, almonds and onions and cover with water. Put in the oven for 2 - 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, marinate all raisins in the remaining 1/2 of the spice mixture. One hour before the meat is done, add the honey, raisins and cinnamon. 

From this point on, you'll need to watch the mix closely and stir every 10-15 minutes, as when the honey reduces it can stick and burn in the bottom of the pot. I sometimes add a little water if needed, but not enough to make the mix watery.

Remove from the oven when the meat falls apart easily. If it's too watery, reduce it over a hot flame until it becomes syrupy.

Place meat on a platter, top with raisins, almonds and sauce.

I serve it with couscous and dried fruit and a nice butter lettuce and cilantro salad. The salad is really satisfying and tasty this time of year, as it's in season.

I took some leftovers to school with me the other night, and like most stews, it's even better a day or two after cooking!

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