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Do you need a tagine to make tagine?

Is there a big difference when making tagine with and without the tagine? I don't need any more specialized cookware in my apt but would love to make tagine. Thanks.

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  1. No, most restaurants use pots and just plop them in the tagine for show.

    1. I have made good tagines just in a pot as well...

      1. No, Jamie Oliver actually had an episode of one of his cooking shows in which he used wet newspaper. I would try to search this on the net, though. I am not sure what the appropriate method is.

        1. As the recent purchaser of a new unglazed cooking tagine, I can tell you that you certainly don't need a tagine to make tagine. I had been making it in a dutch oven or casserole for years. However, there is a noticeable difference in results with the same recipes and techniques.

          Somehow, in the tagine the meat actually browns a little and picks up that lovely browned flavour without ever drying out despite the long cooking time! I was so shocked to see my chicken actually crispy and brown yet succulent and moist after 2 hours in the tagine in my oven. If I now had to give up my tagine and do without, I would certainly start modifying my recipes to include a browning phase in a frying pan before the long slow heat of the oven. Since I have a tagine, it isn't necessary.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Atahualpa

            I wonder if one of those clay pot cookers would yield the same results. I have one somewhere in my house. I have been doing tajines in a dutch oven too, but cripy chicken sounds pretty yummy.

            1. re: Wanda Fuca


              Note that only the portions out of the braising liquid will brown (of course). Which is why a tagine might be a bit different. Different in that the bowl that holds liquid is much shallower than the cavity that you can place the meat pices into. This has the effect of enticing you to have a lower liquid to meat ratio.

              If you've ever cooked gigot au sept heurs (7-hour lamb shanks) you will know that in a fairly well sealing pot can cook for a long time with only a miniscule amount of liquid for the braise/steam. I think the tagine is just the perfect balance between allowing some steam out and keeping enough in that it is tender yet can crisp.

              A clay pot cooker will probably be similar (especially if it is unglazed). If doing, say, fennel and chicken tagine I would mound the fennel on first and then lay the chicken pieces onto the mound. I would then add just enough of the cooking liquid to come only part-way up the chicken.

              1. re: Atahualpa

                Hmm... I think you are right. I might give that a try. I have some reserved lemons that have been hanging around my fridge too long. Maybe some chicken with preserved lemons and olives is in order.

                Time to send out the search party for the clay pot. I will use your suggestions for the liquid amounts. Thanks.

                1. re: Wanda Fuca

                  All this tagine talk got me making lamb c/ apricots tonight along with some cumin scented kale, and a moroccan lentil salad (another post about du puy lentils caused that one!).

          2. Atahualpa, your observations about the results of cooking in a tagine are interesting. I, too have made tagines in a Dutch oven many times. What has kept me from purchasing a tagine is the size - when I braise something, I usually make lots of it to have for leftovers (SO good the next day); tagines always seem to be on the small side, much smaller than the 6 quarts/litres I like to cook in.

            1 Reply
            1. re: FlavoursGal

              Since you're in Toronto, I will add that I bought the largest sized one from Habitat on Queen St (it's a rifi-style one). It is still is much smaller than the dutch oven I was using before. When I cook for myself and my parents (3) I can sometimes get enough left-overs for 2 more out of it (e.g. 5 chicken pieces -- thigh and leg together as 1 piece). But that's it.

              However, I'm NOT a big leftovers person. I find that I want to have tagine once or twice in a week at most -- not 3/4 times. Before I got the tagine and was making bigger batches in the dutch oven, I did end up throwing out leftover tagine more than a few times. So, for me, a tagine makes sense.

            2. There's a long discussion on egullet about tagines:

              The bonus to that thread is that the Queen of Tagines, Paula Wolfert, weighs in on the discussion.

              1. cook's illustrated asked this same question in their equipment corner article titled "do you really need a tagine?" (may 2006). they say "no" and that a dutch oven did fine in their recipes. a subscription is required to view the entire article (search "tagine" in equipment at the site: http://www.cooksillustrated.com ).

                2 Replies
                1. re: wowimadog

                  I have made tagines many many times - without an actual tagine pot. Like FlavoursGal, I also usually make a pretty large recipe which would never fit in any tagine pot I have seen. I use a large heavy-duty saute pan or a Dutch oven. Would it turn out better in a tagine pot? Maybe - but you'd only know this if you did a side-by-side tasting. I love the look of tagine pots but I really think that to store something so space-hoggy that I would only use once in a blue moon...I don't know. Doesn't seem sensible.

                  1. re: wowimadog

                    While I agree that you don't have to have a tagine to cook a tagine, that Cook's Illustrated article lost all credibility with me when it said that you don't really have to use preserved lemons. Yeah, there are substitutes that you can make, but no way are they going to have the same flavor and texture!

                  2. This discussion is making me want to take the rest of the day off to go make a tagine, which I have never done. Any recommended recipes/techniques?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: BKchompchomp

                      The canonical text for tagines is Paula Wolfert's _Cous Cous and Other Good Foods From Morocco_. I really like Kitty Morse's _Cooking at the Casbah_. The recipes are a little less labor intensive then Wolfert's but they aren't overly simplified.

                    2. When I traveled in Morocco a few years ago, several of the cooks I met along the way confessed to using a pressure cooker to prepare the tagines.