A Tagine is a round cooking vessel with a conical lid that originated in Morocco. The lid's shape makes a uniquely moist, hot cooking environment for the dish being cooked. The base is wide and shallow, and the tall lid fits snugly inside. As the food cooks, steam rises into the cone, condenses, and then trickles down the sides back into the dish, infusing the food with spices and flavors. Slow-cooked Tagine stews are absolutely heavenly.
The other day, Arlee found a $50.00 Tagine from Sur la Table at Goodwill for just a couple of dollars. Today I decided to use it to make a spicy chicken stew and started rooting around in the pantry and refrigerator for good ingredients.
But then I googled for the Tagine cooking method and discovered that it has to be "seasoned" before use: It must be soaked in water for several hours, then covered with oil and roasted in the oven for two hours and then gradually cooled.
So I couldn't use the Tagine. And we didn't have any chicken so I used beef instead. This turned out quite deliciously even cooked on the stove!
Here's the recipe with a cautionary note about the seasonings: Definitely to taste, and it would be better to start out conservatively and add more with taste-tasting as it's cooking. This is particularly true with the cumin which has a very pronounced flavor -- a little goes a long way. Same for the white pepper which has more kick than black pepper.
TAGINE BEEF STEW WITH VEGETABLES
2 lbs. stew beef, cut into 1" cubes.
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 lemon, cut into 8 slices
1/2 white onion, cut into long pieces
6 Campari tomatoes, quartered
2 large stalks celery, sliced into 1/2 pieces
8 large white mushrooms, sliced into quarters
1/2 green bell peper, cut into chunks
7-8 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp fresh ginger root, finely grated
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 to 1 tsp ground cumin seed
6-8 Bay leaves
1/4 cup agave syrup
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
Braise the beef in the olive oil in a large skillet until just browned.
Pour the beef and juices into the Tagine. Add all the other ingredients and toss.
If cooking on the stove top, place the Tagine on a heat diffuser. Start on low heat and gradually increase to medium high and NO higher!
If cooking in the oven, place the Tagine in the cold oven. Bring up the heat to 325 Degrees F. and NO higher!
Let the stew simmer for a couple of hours, tasting occasionally for spice intensity and done-ness. The ingredients should all be very tender.
Remove and discard the lemon wedges and bay leaves. Serve in shallow bowls with warm Pita bread and rice.