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Jun 2, 2009 09:23 AM

Who uses a tagine?

My girlfriend bought one back from Spain and we haven't used it yet. What do you cook in yours?

I understand it's used for cooking meat without much moisture in a way that keeps it tender. I don't like the look of it, and to be honest the only thing I can picture is some tough lamb with cous cous or something, which is not something I want to eat.

If anyone can give me tips for a good recipe that can't be cooked in a dutch oven, I'd be grateful.

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  1. I don't want to be down on the Tagine... a manufacturer sent me a couple to try out and rate. However for almost anything that I would cook in it, my old cast iron dutch oven did a better job.

    Except - For a great dinner party stage presentation.

    So yeah, from my perspective tagine = dutch oven - some will argue the shape adds something; but really?


    8 Replies
    1. re: legourmettv

      I never did a side by side cookoff so I can't say one is better than the other, but I do mostly agree that tagine=dutch oven. But a tagine has no more to do with "cooking meat without much moisture" than does a dutch oven. If you want to cook baked beans in a tagine, no problem. Other than making a better impression on the table than a dutch oven, the only difference I notice is when cooking on the stovetop the top of the tagine stays rather cool so there is a lot of condensation and reflux of juices back into the base. More so than a dutch oven? If so, does this make for a better dish? Can't say. Oh, I also find the tagines are easier to clean and maintain than plain cast iron.

      One important point. There are 3 types of tagines. The plain ceramic ones, sometimes with a clear glaze inside and/or out; the fancy decorated ceramic ones, and the enameled cast iron monsters, made by le Creuset, I think. The fancy ones are not safe for cooking. They are only good for serving (cook the dish in your dutch oven and transfer to the fancy tagine to impress your guests), or as decorative items on a shelf. I learned this the hard way when one shattered the first time I used it.

      1. re: Zeldog

        I don't have a tagine, but do have a Spanish terracotta cazuella, which I think is similar to the base of a tagine. It is glazed on the inside, and unglazed out. I had to soak it in water before first use, to restore moisture driven off during firing.

        It heats slowly, but once hot will braise or simmer a dish with a small flame - I usually use a table top butane burner. Also the glazed interior is relatively low stick, and cleans easily.

        1. re: paulj

          When cooking on stovetop you can use one of those diffuser things to be safe. Used to be you could only find them at asian stores but I saw one at BB&B last week.

        2. re: Zeldog

          hahah! I'm pretty sure it's just plain glazed terracotta. I did wonder if that was safe to use on a hob (most stoneware will shatter I believe). So perhaps it's a decorative item, despite coming with cooking instructions.

          And if I had a dining table (I don't), I'd prefer to serve in my LC dutch oven rather than the tagine - I think it's hideous. Well, as we got it from Spain and can't return it, I shall have to half-hope it breaks somehow.

          Pics of some similar ones below (not actually mine though)

          1. re: Soop

            In traditional cooking a terracotta tagine would be used over a small charcoal fire. A gas flame, used with care (I start low, then increase the flame) works fine. Electric is trickier.

            1. re: Soop


              Next time you have a dinner party serve something in the tagine and if someone compliments the presentation, offer him/her the tagine. Problem solved, and no broken pottery.

              1. re: Soop


                Plain glazed or unglazed tagines are for cooking, so use it that way if you like. See serving tagines here:


            2. Earlier posts are right, a tagine is a Dutch oven. More precisely, a Dutch oven for two. That is, it's a stovetop braising pot.

              So, why use a heavy enamaled cast iron tagine (forget the other types) instead of a Dutch oven to prepare Western dishes?
              1) The tagine is the perfect size to prepare a small roast for two people (with leftovers). 2) The tagine bottom is an iron skillet without a handle, just fine to brown the meat and sweat the onions over high heat. 3) There is just enough room to add your favorite veggies. 4) While simmering, the top can easily be lifted off during the simmering process (you don't even need a mitten), enabling the cook to inspect the roast, add veggies, move things around, or add additional braising liquid, if needed—all this while aromatic scents waft through the kitchen. 5) The tagine is very attractive with its fire engine red, blue or white top. 6) And with the top removed, the bottom is open and shallow for a nice presentation and easy serving at the table.

              1. I got the large Emile Henry tagine frome their Flame ceramic for Christmas. I'm working my way through the cookbook that my friend included. So far a lamb tagine with almonds and pear from Clotilde Dusolier's "Chocolate & Zucchini" is the most knock out thing we've tried tho it could be made in any heavy bottomed, lidded braiser.

                What it has been SENSATIONAL for is no knead bread. The low broad bottom is easy to load the dough into. You can even easily slash the dough without getting burned and the exceptionally tall lid provides plenty of room for the rise.

                Here's a couple piix of the dough loaded in and my tagine bread:

                4 Replies
                1. re: rainey

                  PS It's somethibg I never would have bought for myself and you need some serious storage space for it. But now I'm delighted to have it.

                  And I LOVE that EH Flame ceramic. Have bought myself several pieces that I use on the gas top and in the hottest possible oven. It's also great for a long simmer over a very slow flame.

                  1. re: rainey

                    This looks so good that I want to try to bake one like it myself. Can you post a recipe?

                    1. re: RGC1982

                      For the Sullivan Street bread? Here's the recipe from my file from the original NYTimes article. I adjusted the salt as everyone did back then.

                      If you do a search on "no knead bread" you'll find more information around here than you could digest in 6 months!

                      Sullivan Street Bakery No Knead Bread

                      Recipe By: New York Times, November 8, 2006 (courtesy of Donna Harrison-Smith)
                      Yield: one 1 1/2 pound loaf


                      3 cup all purpose or bread flour, plus additional for dusting
                      1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
                      1 1/2 teaspoon salt, (per original recipe but see note about using 2 teaspoons)
                      1 5/8 cup water, preferably bottled water or water that has been allowed to stand for 24 hours for chlorine to evaporate
                      cornmeal or wheat bran, as needed


                      1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

                      2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes. If reserving some old dough now would be the time to pinch off a handful and add it to other starter or put it aside as your next starter.


                      3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

                      4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

                      Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.


                      A unique no knead method that yields an artisan quality, great tasting bread from a loose, sponge-like dough. It is the discovery of Jim Lahey of NYC's famous Sullivan Street Bakery.

                      Here's a link to the article with photos:
                      And here's a link to a video:
                      652058.6859677259 (take out spaces before trying to use link


                      Rainey's findings:
                      • Wetter dough will produce the best results
                      • A larger container will, likewise, give a fully baked interior and excellent crust
                      • This is truly a no knead bread BUT if you use a bread machine on "Dough" cycle to mix and knead (even twice) you get superior rise and a very nicely shaped boule.
                      • The addition of 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour, 1 tablespoon fine cornmeal or semolina and 1 tablespoon rye flour provide more complex, rustic flavor and texture AND greatly improve the bread's keeping quality. If you use these additions increase the water to 2 cups - 1 tablespoon.
                      • Other items can be added for additional flavor. I've used herbs, walnuts, green onions, cooked wheat berries. Other things might included caramelized onion, minced black olives. I throw them on the top of the dough after the mixing, or if using a bread machine, after the second kneading, and draw the dough over them. Let the dough bubble up around them and then work them in during the folding and shaping.
                      • If levening with an old dough or sourdough starter, tear up the starter and let dissolve in the water called for until you can stir it into a soupy mixture. Add the flour and salt and proceed as specified in the recipe. Additional water may be needed so adjust as necessary.

                      Notes on baking bread on a Weber gas BBQ
                      • Front & rear regulators fully on, middle regulator off = 450˚
                      • A saltillo tile (about 1/2" thick) gives good heat diffusion and heat retention when the lid gets lifted
                      • Stacked tiles or tile fragments that lift the pot 3/4"- 1" off the saltillo tile help prevent a burned bottom crust
                      •  The gas flame can be turned off when the lid is removed from the pot at 30 minutes but leaving it on will give you the best results.

                      1. re: RGC1982

                        There are original tagine recipes on my non-commercial Web site for lamb shanks, osso buco, roasts and turkey legs.

                    2. Tagine does NOT equal a dutch oven. They have slightly different cooking properties. As an earlier poster stated: there are three types. The only one that is used in North Africa is the earthenware with the interior of the shallow bottom is glazed while the exterior is not. The conical top is glazed both in and out. The conical shape top absorbs some of the excess moisture during cooking. Of course one can substitute a dutch oven but one would need more liquid for braising. The LC cast iron monster as an earlier poster referred to is their heavy casserole shaped like a tagine: a marketing gimmick. No North African cook would ever use this. I use a tagine frequently for braising because I can use very little liquid. The end result is that the meat is more tender and flavorful. This might be dued to fact that the flavor in the meat has not been bleached out into the large amount of liquid that is needed for a dutch oven. Two advantages: I don't have deal with the "stew tastes better the next day" thing as I can serve it immediately and I never have to reduce or thicken the liquid in order to make a sauce.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: PBSF

                        I don't think the conical top absorbs steam, especially if it is glazed on the inside, but it might be quite effective at condensing it. Does the top get very warm?

                        The amount of liquid that you need in a Dutch Oven depends a lot on how well the lid fits. A well fitting lid shouldn't let much steam escape. Another variable is flame intensity (or oven temperature). It is easy to use too much heat in the DO case. I suspect that with care a knowledgeable cook could do just as well in a DO as in traditional tagine.

                        1. re: PBSF

                          I had a brand new Emile Henry flametop tagine I chose to sell based on an article about tagines in Cooks Illustrated magazine. They had taken the exact same tagine recipe and cooked it both in a Dutch oven and in a tagine. When they were done, they could detect no noticeable taste difference in the finished dish and concluded that while it makes a nice presentation at the table there were no advantages to using one for a recipe rather than a Dutch oven.

                          I would make all tagine recipes in my 3.5 qt. LC buffet casserole with it's nice heavy lid and I'm sure they would be just fine.

                        2. I have begun to use the Tagine I bought at a North African import shop in St. Petersburg FL. I really enjoy it.
                          Reason 1: we try not to turn the air conditioning on until July. Tagine cooking doesn't use a lot of heat (lowest flame on my cooktop for an hour and it doesn't radiate heat like a dutch oven does.
                          Reason 2: flavors seem more intense
                          Reason 3: meat because it's cut up tenderizes faster
                          Reason 4: I can lift the top without using an oven mit.

                          Reason 5, stated above but can't be underestimated: ease of cleanup. I hate to do dishes. The Tagine cleans up so easily...well, it would, wouldn't it as it's used wherer there isn't water to waste.

                          Now to make my own pickled lemons.