After what I feel was a pretty damn decent representation of Ethiopian food, here we have what I think is maybe a bit of a misnomer. Not that this isn’t good, of course. It’s just…that there is no tagine involved. Like tandoori chicken with no tandoori. What other foods are named after their cooking vessel? Casserole. I don’t know. Aside from that, and maybe aside from the sweet potato, this is still a nice, long-cooked dish with lovely spices and tender meat. I didn’t take a lot of liberties. Though, I had also told myself that the next time I was to make Moroccan food I was going to have made preserved lemon. I didn’t. And I made this anyway. I’m such a let down. Lamb tagine…Moroccan lamb? Sure, whatever. Just make it.
I just realized that I thought I had only posted two African recipes in my blog’s existence. How incredibly embarrassing to admit that it was because I sometimes forget to think of Morocco when I think of Africa. I’m a bad person. Egypt, too. I don’t even know much how to differentiate Egyptian food from other Middle Eastern cuisines. I would like to be more cultured! Maybe that area should get their shit together so I can go visit and eat their food. Idiots. Oh and visit the Egyptian pyramids. Ohhhhh man do I want to do that. I used to be obsessed with Ancient Egypt. I had a Learn to Write in Hieroglyphics! set when I was in elementary school. Pretty, pretty, prettyyyyy cool.
Joe and I went hiking on Saturday in Rocky Mountain National Park. We had a pass leftover from our epic Bryce/Zion/Grand Canyon trip back in May. This was the first time we’d been to this fancy national park right nearby us. I don’t have much tolerance for paying for parks or for being in god awful mountain traffic or for dealing with tourists. Especially when there are a million other lovely places in Colorado to go to for free and without ever seeing a single person for days. But, I have to say, it was pretty magical. It was snowing and there was a good foot of snow already on the ground. I’m ready for Christmas. And getting a Christmas tree in the wilderness. And at the trailhead, and for the first little bit onto the trail, we got to hear tourists in jeans and tennis shoes talk about how “ridiculous” the weather was (it was very, very gusty). And we saw the long-skirt-wearing-religion people. That was pretty good. Holy crap, speaking of Christmas, are you as excited as I am to start planning Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners?! I’m pretty sure my mom is going to agree to cooking a goose for Christmas. How positively Dickensian! And then I can cook my famous crispy potatoes in the goose fat. My mom’s going to hate me. My parents don’t believe in fat. Unless it’s margarine. Help.
This dish would easily allow lots of different root vegetables to make it extra fall-y. Turnips, rutabagas, potatoes, etc. You could also use fresh apple or pears, which I would have been more obliged to do with the apples that I have, if I didn’t like snacking on them so much. The dried fruit in this feels pretty fitting and fall-y, though, since they’re dried plums and apricots. I should try preserving fruit this way next year, instead of jams or pickles. Not sure it’d last till October, though… The shoulder blade chops are great because they’re cheap and they have lots of delicious collagen that renders the whole dish super thick and silky. Feel free to use another cut if you’d like to – shoulder chops or full shoulder.
note: if you don’t have ras el hanout or want to bother making it, it’s okay – you can kind of approximate with 1/4 teaspoon cumin, and a dash of cayenne. Also, I won’t cry if you omit saffron.
1/2 tablespoon fat
4 lamb shoulder blade chops
2 – 2 1/2 cups chicken stock, divided
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 generous pinch of saffron, crumbled
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium sweet potato, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
6 small carrots, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon ras el hanout
1/2 cup pitted prunes, cut in half
1/2 cup dried Turkish apricots, cut in half
2 teaspoons honey (optional)
freshly grated nutmeg
1. Heat fat in a Dutch oven or soup pot over high heat until hot but not smoking. Place the chops in and cook for about 3 minutes on each side until nice and browned. Do in batches if needed. Transfer to a plate.
2. Lower the heat to medium low and add the onion. Cook for about 10 minutes until softened, stirring frequently.
3. Stir in 1 1/2 cup broth, saffron, salt, and pepper and add the lamb back. Raise the heat to bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for about 1 3/4 hours.
4. Remove the lamb to a plate and let cool for a bit. Add additional broth (I used about 1 cup) and add the sweet potato and carrots to the pot. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, pull the lamb from the bones and shred into bite-sized chunks. Add the lamb back, along with the spices and dried fruits to the pot and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables and fruits are tender, about 10 minutes or so.
6. Stir in the honey if using, and season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes until nice and thickened.
You can serve with preserved lemon if you’re wonderful. Otherwise, it’s great on its own. Cilantro or parsley both work nicely, toasted almonds do too.