TAGINE Cooking - How To?
I bought Claudia Roden's Arabesque and noticed a number of tagine recipes including "Lamb Tagine with Carmelized Baby Onions and Pears" ... I want to do it with more accessible chicken. And noticed a recipe for a tagine in Ana Sortun's Spice.
However a detailed reading of the recipes do not even mention the cooking vessel in the instructions, only when to "cover". No mention is made of the unusual top piece of the tagine. Both books appear to only require a covered skillet and both books call for cooking over a flame ... I'd always expected tagines to be used in an oven.
Online searching does not yield a lot more info.
Anyone have an idea of whether this is solely a stovetop item? Or also baking?
Any ideas on cookbooks which offer many tagine recipes?
From what I've read, a tagine (the cooking vessel, not the dish) produces a better end product than a covered skillet, but if you don't have one, tagine dishes are still delicious.
Paula Wolfert is, as far as I know, the leading tagine authority in the U.S. Not only does she have a great book (Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco) but she has a considerable online presence as well. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to post links to other food discussion forums, but if you do a search for 'Wolfert' you'll find some of the places she hangs out.
I think it is fine to give references, and keep the chow talk here. Her website is a good place to start: http://www.paula-wolfert.com/
Scott - any specific recipes that you've tried of hers you'd recommend. Moroccan cooking is one cuisine I have NO experience with. would love any thoughts of a good place to start.
Adam, I've read quite a bit of what Paula has to say on the subject, but, like you, my actual experience cooking Moroccan food is a big goose egg. I have to say that I've always been curious about it, but the prospect of actually obtaining a tagine and cooking with it has very little appeal to me. It's one of the only world cuisines that I can't get into. Moroccan and maybe some of the Scandinavian stuff :) Give me a pizza oven, a tandoor or even a crockpot- those I can get excited about, but a tagine... eh...
Maybe it's the ubiquity of raisins (I don't do cooked raisins :)) or maybe it's the complexity. Deep down I'm a meat and potatoes kind of guy. I'm sure I'm missing out. Morrocan cuisine has a huge following of fervent devotees. All power to them/to the people on this thread. But it ain't me.
I find that cooking tagines is really simple, as the recipes I have often don't involve frying the ingredients or chopping the herbs - it all gets thrown in together. There are lots of recipes which don't require fruit - I agree that some of the prune ones can just be too sweet, but I have had amazing lamb and prune tagines where the cook has managed to make it taste lovely and caramelised rather than sugary sweet.
I've tried to like them, but I'm not too keen on preserved lemons, so I', wary of any recipe which has loads of them in.
Thank you ALL for the replies and suggestions. I fell in love with the Staub Tagine which is on sale bigtime on Amazon!
And I had completely forgotten about Paula Wolfert. Excellent!
Also, Scott, do flip through the huge number of photos in Arabesque when you are in the bookstore. You may become a convert! :)
Traditionally, from what I've heard, tagines are used over a charcoal brazier. I would think that a stovetop is the closest thing most people have to that in their homes.
I always use a Le Creuset dutch oven for tagines, and I think they turn out fine. There is a thread on egullet where people cook the same thing in a tagine and in a dutch oven and talk about the differences; from my memory, the unglazed terra cotta of a tagine is supposed to absorb more liquid, so tagine tagines are drier than dutch oven tagines.
I've cooked tagine recipes mostly from Claudia Roden, Kitty Morse, and Paula Wolfert--that's listed in order of increasing complexity and work. I find the Claudia Roden recipes (from the New Book of Middle Eastern Food) to be a little too simple sometimes, so that they don't have the dimensions of flavor of the other two, but they are OK on a busy weeknight.
In addition to Paula Wolfert, I like Kitty Morse's book Cooking at the Kasbah. One of her tagine recipes with chicken and olives is available online here: http://www.kittymorse.com/recipe2.html but it looks a little simpler than the ones in her book.
I make my tagines in a dutch oven. I've used both cast iron and enameled and it comes out great.
Paula Wolfert says that you can make any tagine in a Dutch oven. She uses both enamelled and plain cast iron. There was a lengthy discussion on the uses of the traditional cooking vessel on eGullet. You may be able to find it on their site. PW was a participant and gives directions for seasoning a new tagine, how to maintain etc.
I have just about all of Wolfert's books and have cooked a great deal from them without feeling I needed yet another pot.
I have a traditional fired clay tagine which I use in the oven up to 350 degrees. I also start the ingredients stovetop on a very low heat. The moisture collects on the sides of the cone-like lid and drop down continually basting the stew which makes it very moist.
I am looking forward to getting this charcoal base for my tagine.
I really liked this Kylie Kwong recipe with one caution. I made it with chicken once but the flavours were too strong and they overwhelmed the chicken.
Braised Moroccan-style baby lamb shanks
I thin KK is a creative cook, and reflects that in her "Moroccan" lamb shanks. I've never seen a north African recipe that calls for fish sauce. A fish fumet maybe (Moroccan cooking is sometimes highly influenced by French cooking), but not an Asian fish sauce.
Tagines (the cooking vessels) come in two types; those for cooking and serving, and those for serving but not to be cooked in. Oh! And there's a third type; very small tagines used to serve spices and seasonings at the table.
Traditiona Moroccan tagine cooking is/was done in a tagine CLAY vessel over a (usually) charcoal fire. But lidded metal and clay pots have also been used traditionally for cooking tagines. There are also two dome shapes in traditional tagines; one is the cone shape everyone is familiar with, then there is the bell shape.
I'm not convinced the condensation streaming down the inside of a traditional tagine is much different than the condensation liquids that form and fall back into the food in any cooking vessel with a lid on. But the glazed clay can make a flavor difference. When new, glazed clay pots often impart an "earthy" flavor that metal or ceramic pans do not. With time, many glazes on earthenware pottery will craze, which allows for flavor absorption by the pot from whatever is being cooked that later feeds back to the next dish. I never worry about food contamination from such sources as the boiling and baking sterilize the pot with each use. And traditional tagines can be used in the oven, on top of the stove, or over a campfire.
As for the cast iron and ceramic coated cast iron tagines, well, they're pretty but that's about as far as it goes. Well, actually that's not true. They usually don't break if you drop them while a traditional (but MUCH cheaper) clay tagine will.
Here's a website where you can look over the various shapes and types of tagines: