Thursday, April 21, 2011

Moroccan Delight

My friend, Rachel, is a great cook. If you go over to her house you can guarantee that she will serve up something tasty. Last week I was invited over for dinner and her house was filled with the wonderful aroma of an exotic Moroccan tagine, inspired by the most excellent Jamie Oliver. The flavours were so delicious and the meat so tender that I just had to share the recipe here :-)

Beef Tagine
Taken from Jamie Oliver’s “Jamie Does…”

600g stewing beef
olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
small bunch of fresh coriander
400g tin of chickpeas, drained
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
800ml vegetable stock
1 small squash (approximately 800g), deseeded and cut into 5cm chunks
100g prunes, stoned and roughly torn
2 tablespoons flaked almonds, toasted

For the spice rub:
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 level tablespoon ras el hanout spice mix* (Rachel used chilli flakes instead)
1 level tablespoon ground cumin
1 level tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 level tablespoon ground ginger
1 level tablespoon sweet paprika

Mix all the spice rub ingredients together in a small bowl. Put the beef into a large bowl, massage it with the spice rub, then cover with clingfilm and put into the fridge for a couple of hours – ideally overnight. That way the spices really penetrate and flavour the meat.

When you’re ready to cook, heat some olive oil in a tagine or casserole–type pan and fry the meat over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add your chopped onion and coriander stalks and fry for another 5 minutes. Tip in the chickpeas and tomatoes, then pour in 400ml of stock and stir. Bring to the boil, then put the lid on the pan or cover with foil and reduce to a simmer for 1½ hours.

At this point add your squash, the prunes and the rest of the stock. Give everything a gentle stir, then pop the lid back on the pan and continue cooking for another 1½ hours. Keep an eye on it and add a splash of water if it looks too dry.

Once the time is up, take the lid off and check the consistency. If it seems a bit too runny, simmer for 5 to 10 minutes more with the lid off. The beef should be really tender and flaking apart now, so have a taste and season with a pinch or two of salt. Scatter the coriander leaves over the tagine along with the toasted almonds, then take it straight to the table with a big bowl of lightly seasoned couscous and dive in.

* I was intrigued by the ras el hanout spice mix that this recipe calls for, which is an exotic Moroccan spice blend. After some Googling I discovered that you can make your own and store the mix in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Ras el Hanout Spice Mix

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
I teaspoon turmeic
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

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