“Tagine” is simply Moroccan for “stew cooked in a pot with a funny hat.”
“Tagine” refers both to a North African ceramic/clay pot and the dish that’s cooked in it. You do not, however, need a tagine to cook the recipe. It’s actually a little less hassle to cook it in a dutch oven since that will go straight from the stove into the hot oven. However, my very good friend got me a tagine for Christmas, so I’ve been itching to put it to good use.
If you are using a tagine, here are a few things to keep in mind. (If not, skip ahead.) First, your tagine must be seasoned. Yes, even if it’s glazed it will absorb water. Secondly, you do not want drastic temperature changes with your tagine, as it will crack. So, if you want to cook with it on a stove you also need a diffuser. You can do what I did and just sauté everything in a skillet and then transfer it to the tagine. Finally, you always want to put your tagine in a cold oven. Now that we’ve clarified all that…
This recipe is a wonderful dish full of comforting spices. It’s a good one to use with meat that’s a little on the gamey side, since the spices will help mask any off flavors. The original recipe called for a Moroccan spice blend called ras-el-hanout, however, there is no need to go around looking for this random spice blend, especially if you are a spice hound like I am and already have the ingredients in your pantry. So I basically just took the ingredients, laid them all out for you, and used tiny amounts of the spices I like less and larger amounts of the spices I like more. (You’ll notice there’s barely a sprinkling of clove in there). This is merely suggestion. If you like clove, put more in there.
If you don’t already have most of these spices, try to find a store that sells spices in bulk bins (like Sprouts, Whole Foods or Central Market) so you don’t have to spend $5 each for the brand name and container. Even if you need to buy all the spices, buying them from a self-serve bulk bin will probably get you everything for under $5.
We also drizzled some pomegranate molasses over the top, mainly because I keep seeing this damn ingredient all over the place and I finally got some and wanted to try it. It really adds a wonderful tang and brightens everything up.
It is also worth noting here that this recipe made more than would actually fit in my tagine, so I moved part of it to a dutch oven just to see if there was a difference. And I’ll be damned, the meat that was cooked in the tagine was noticeably moister. So there you go.
Venison tagine with apricot and squash
|Prep time||5 minutes|
|Cook time||1 hour, 20 minutes|
|Total time||1 hour, 25 minutes|
|Website||BBC Good Food|
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1lb venison (chopped into about 1/2 inch pieces)
- 1 onion (finely chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
- 1/8 teaspoon ground clove
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- salt to taste
- 1 can chickpeas
- 1/2 cup water or stock
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 2 cups dried apricots (chopped)
- 2 cups butternut or other squash (diced)
- zest of one lemon (for garnish)
- chopped cilantro (for garnish)
- pomegranate molasses (to taste, for garnish)
|Preheat the oven to 350 (leave oven cold if using ceramic tagine). Heat the oil in a dutch oven (or skillet to transfer to tagine) and add the onion. Cook until softened, then add the garlic and spices and cook for a minute or two.|
|Add the venison, squash, tomatoes, chickpeas and stock or water and bring to a gentle boil. Cover and transfer to the oven (if using a tagine, transfer to the ceramic tagine at this point and place in the cold oven, then turn it on to 350). Cook for 1 hour, then remove the lid, stir, and cook in the oven uncovered for about another 20 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.|
|Serve over cous cous or rice and sprinkle with zest, coriander, and/or a drizzle of pomegranate molasses.|