Friday, September 23, 2011

A Cosy Lamb Tagine and a Colorful Wooly Link

We're in for a rainy week, including this weekend which will probably slow the Saturday Farmers Market traffic some in Amherst. Rain happens this time of year, so I try to act smart and spend time outside when the weather is beautifully clear and crisp. Took a lot of sunflower photos at sunset the other day when the mosquitoes were ravenous. Good thing because they are going to start looking tired after all the rain. 

When the weather starts changing, I can feel my need for comfort food grow. I start craving stews, soups, apple tarts and sauce, Sunday roasts, hot chocolate.... anything to make me feel warm inside and to fill up the house with those smells that make the place feel like home. Being sheep farmers, we eat a whole bunch of lamb stewed up in these forms of comfort cooking.


One of our favorite ways to eat lamb is in a tagine style stew seasoned with dried fruits, ginger and cinnamon. This season, we are lucky to have fresh ginger available from Old Friends Farm. I buy a chunk (or root as I should refer to it as) every week at the Saturday market. If I don't use it all quickly, I stuff it in the freezer and it grates beautifully all winter long. 

Here's a new recipe I developed for our Leyden Glen Lamb farmstand - perfect for autumn days. If you don't like lamb, you can substitute beef, chicken, or your protein of choice. Surprisingly, Julia LOVED this even though she is in a "no-spice" period of her eating career. You can add chiles if you like things spicy. 

Moroccan Lamb Tagine from Leyden Glen Farm
with Old Friends Farm Fresh Ginger,
Prunes, Apricots, Apples, and Carrots

A tagine is actually a conical pot used in Moroccan cooking. I don't own one (this site is mind-boggling - who knew?) but it isn't necessary to have one to cook a good tagine. I use my copper dutch oven so feel free to use any heavy pot with a lid that will fit in your oven. For the lamb, I use our bone-in shoulder roasts or chops but if you can't find bone-in (they add more flavor, you know), use a boneless shoulder roast or any lamb stew cut. You can experiment with using fresh fruits (apples, pears, plums) or other dried fruits such as raisins and figs. Making a tagine is like making art - layers of experimentation and each one is different.

2 lbs. lamb shoulder roast or lamb shoulder chops - bone-in
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion
5 cloves garlic
2 cups water
1 cup dried prunes
1/2 cup dried apricots, cut into 1/4” pieces
4 Tablespoons Old Friends Farm grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon (and more to taste)
3 large carrots - peeled and cut into 1/2” diagonal chunks
2 Tablespoons butter
2 medium size firm apples (Honeycrisp,  Granny Smith, Delicious)
1 Tablespoon honey
handful of slivered almonds
For serving: cooked basmatic rice or couscous

In a dutch oven, brown the lamb on all sides over medium high heat in the olive oil. Remove to a platter. Peel and chop the onions and garlic. Brown the onions and garlic taking care that they do not burn. When done, return the lamb to the pot. Add 2 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of the freshly grated fresh ginger and the cinnamon and bring to a boil on top of stove. Cover and place in a 250 degree oven and cook for 4 hours until the meat falls easily off the bone. (Alternately use a crock pot set on low and let cook all day.  You can skip the browning step for crock pot cooking.)

Boil some water and soak the dried prunes and apricots in water while the meat is cooking (for at least 1/2 hour). Reserve the soaking liquid.

When lamb is falling off the bones, remove from oven, let cool a bit so you don’t burn your fingers and remove the bones. Add the carrots,  prunes, chopped apricots, and optional honey and cook uncovered on top of stove until the carrots are tender. Add the fruit soaking liquid if the tagine has dried out too much. Simmer a bit more letting the sauce thicken as the liquid evaporates. The tagine sauce should not be too liquidy - you want it to have body and thickness to it. Add 2 more tablespoons of freshly grated ginger. Taste the tagine and add more cinnamon if you like. Continue to simmer over very low heat or in the oven while you prepare the apples.

Peel the apples and cut into thin slices. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in frying pan and saute the apples, taking care that they do not become mushy - you want them to remain crisp. In a separate frying pan, toast some slivered almonds, taking care not to burn them.

Cook basmati rice or couscous according to your favorite method. Place a scoop of rice or couscous on each plate. Spoon a few of the sauteed apples on top and then ladle some of the lamb tagine on top. Sprinkle with with some toasted almonds to add a crunchy texture. Top with fresh parsley or mint.

Now for the Colorful Wooly Link..... Check this out, via Rene from Shades of Shetland. who just got back from a wonderful trip to the UK. Jealous? For sure. 

Julia and I are off to NYC for a Saturday speech on color at the Big Apple Knitting Guildon Saturday. We're bringing my mom so it should be a fun multi-generational Girls Day. Can't wait to meet all the knitters!


mary kate witry said...

Your recipe looks and sounds delicious. A question, if you use the crock pot, do you just put everything in except the apples and complete that step at the end?
mary kate witry

Candylei said...

This recipe sounds delicious! Such a wonderful combination of flavors. I just bought your dog sweater pattern!! Excited!
Have a great time in the city!

Candylei said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said...

Looking forward to trying this. I just might have to take advantage of a rainy day and drive down for lamb :)

Kristin Nicholas said...

MaryKate - If using a crock pot, I would cook the lamb w/ spices for awhile w/out the dried fruits. Add the dried fruits closer to the end of the cooking. Otherwise, they will not be visible and totally blend into the sauce. Saute the apples separately so they stay crisp. Should work fine!

Karen said...

This sounds wonderful - can't wait to try it. Lamb and fruit are a perfect combination!

Turtle said...

yum!! So wish we lived closer to be able to buy lamb from you.

Crochet Renee' said...

Will be taking some lambs to the processor soon. Will have to give this a try! Thanks for sharing!