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Jan 24, 2008 11:43 AM

Lamb tagine

I have this great recipe for chicken tagine with olives and preserved lemons which I have made many times. Suddenly, though, I was thinking I'd like to make a lamb tagine for dinner Saturday night and I was wondering if I could possibly use the same recipe. It's not that I don't have other lamb tagine recipes, but so many of them are sweet - with dried fruit and whatnot. I am not in a dried fruit mood.

Here's the chicken tagine recipe I use. I think it could be good with lamb - opinions?

1 chicken (3 to 4 lbs.) or equivalent amount of pieces (I use thighs)
1/4 cup butter or olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. saffron, crushed (or turmeric)
4 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
4 tbsp. flat-leafed parsley, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1-1/2 cups water
1 preserved lemon (pulp discarded, peel cut into long narrow strips)
1 cup green olives, pitted
juice of 2 lemons

In a large saucepan or deep skillet, brown the chicken pieces in the 1/4 cup olive oil over medium-high heat, skin side down, until the skin is golden brown. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the onion, garlic, paprika, ginger, cumin, saffron, cilantro, parsley, salt, pepper and additional 1/4 cup olive oil. Cook, stirring gently, for a few minutes then add the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until almost tender. Turn the chicken from time to time as it cooks.

Add the preserved lemon peel, olives and lemon juice and continue to cook until the chicken is very tender – another 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve immediately, accompanied by hot couscous. If the sauce seems too thin, you can remove the chicken to a serving platter (keep warm), increase the heat to high and cook the sauce, stirring, until it is reduced. Spoon the sauce over the chicken before serving.

Makes about 4 servings.

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  1. This should work, depending on the cut of lamb. Shoulder chunks should be fine, but if you're using lef, I'd cut the cooking time back quite a bit.

    3 Replies
    1. re: pikawicca

      I have a small boneless leg I was going to use. I will certainly play the cooking time by ear. Since this recipe is for chicken, that shouldn't be a problem. But the flavours, though - you think?

        1. re: pikawicca

          Thanks for the support - I'm doing it. Will report.

    2. I promised a report - so here it is. I made the tagine for dinner last Saturday. I used a shoulder of lamb (which I forgot I had in the freezer), de-boned it and cut it up. Basically, just followed the recipe exactly as above. It was delicious. I will say, however, I like this particular recipe better with chicken than lamb. There's something about that lemon with the chicken that's just magic. With lamb, good but not as good. Would I do it again? Yes, probably. I was feeling like lamb, I was feeling like something not sweet - it was really good, so no complaints.

      Served it with couscous, a Moroccan carrot salad (cooked), a fantastic eggplant salad from Arabesque with tomatoes and pomegranate seeds, and a green salad.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Nyleve

        That recipe is very similar to the one I have used interchangably with chicken and rabbit. It works great for both, but I prefer the rabbit myself (usually just the legs and belly flaps- the saddle gets too dried out).

        1. re: Nyleve

          Thank-you for the recipe. I'm always looking for good lamb and chicken dishes and this one sounds delicious. I'm gonna give it a try this weekend.
          Can you tell me though, where would I find preserved lemon? If I left this out do you think it would change the taste of the dish very much?

        2. I think I'm going to try this recipe next time I make chicken. So, you mentioned that it was a tagine. I've seen those conical tagine pots with the tall lid. Is it made ideally in something like that?

          1. In answer to two questions - first, the preserved lemons. You can usually find them at a good middle eastern grocery story, but not always. They're used mostly in Moroccan and other north African cooking. It's really easy to make your own but it takes a few days at the very least (and a more traditional method can take a month or longer). The following link will give you a pretty basic recipe. This one calls for Meyer lemons but I always use regular lemons so don't worry about that detail. I know the quick recipe has been posted on Chowhound before so maybe a search will turn it up. I have, however, given out this recipe to a young friend of my son who was in love with the dish and, frankly, don't think he'll be hunting down preserved lemons or making his own anytime soon. I told him he can use regular lemon peels instead - but that he should give them a brief boil before using. And add extra salt.

            Second - seattledebs - the recipe itself is called a tagine. It is traditionally cooked in a ceramic tagine pot, which is what you described. The conical lid somehow works with the evaporation of the liquid or some other such detail which I've never quite grasped. Anyway, I don't have one. Maybe one day I'll pick up such a pot, but for the time being I use a large shallow lidded pan - probably best described as a chicken fryer - to cook tagines. I like to get a lot of surface area and this works very well. I suspect the difference between using this and a proper tagine pot would be miniscule to anyone but the most committed Morrocan food expert. In short, you don't need the tagine pot.