According to a well-known television drama series, winter is coming. So time to make some winter warming recipes for the cold months ahead, starting with a delicious lamb tagine. Simple to make, tasty and a welcome dinner for chilly winter nights.
Lamb Tagine With Vegetables
There are a myriad of recipes for lamb tagine. After sifting through many variations, it’s clear there are key spices involved (saffron, paprika, ginger and turmeric) along with tomatoes and, of course, lamb.
Almost all of the recipes used argan oil in the process at some point. This intensely flavoured oil is produced from kernels of the argan tree, which is native to Morocco. It can be very expensive and/or hard to obtain. If argan oil is not available, substitute with olive oil.
- Casserole dish or Dutch oven
- Chopping board
- Sharp knife
- Frying pan
- Measuring jug
- Pestle and mortar
- 2 lb / 1 kg boneless lamb shoulder
- 1 large onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1½ tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 2-3 saffron threads
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp argan oil
- Black pepper
- 1 sweet potato
- 2 aubergines
- 2 x 400g tinned tomatoes
- 1 preserved lemon
- Fresh coriander (garnish)
- Pomegranate seeds (garnish)
- Bulgar wheat or couscous
- Apple wood chunk (optional, smoking)
When cooking this in a Big Green Egg, I use a small chunk of apple wood to infuse a little bit of smoke flavour into the lamb.
If you’re smoking the lamb, heat the Big Green Egg to 107°C/225°F, indirect setup. Wait for the coals to be slightly glowing then toss on an apple wood chunk and wait for a thin line of smoke. Smoke the lamb shoulder for 2 hours, then proceed as below.
- Pre-heat the oven or Big Green Egg (indirect setup) to 135°C/275°F.
- Dice the onion into chunks, crush the garlic clove. Cut the sweet potato and aubergine into bite-sized chunks.
- Combine the paprika, ground ginger, turmeric, ground nutmeg and cayenne into a small bowl and mix together to create a rub, adjusting for taste. Trim the lamb and cut into 5cm / 2inch chunks. Coat the chunks with half of the spice rub.
- Grind the saffron with a pestle and mortar, then add to a cup with 100ml boiling water.
- Warm 2 tbsp olive and 2 tbsp argan oil in a frying pan (or direct to casserole dish if cast iron) over medium heat. Add the onion chunks for 3-4 mins until soft, then add the garlic and remaining spice mix and fry for another 1-2 mins.
- Add the lamb chunks and fry until browned. Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper to taste. If the lamb has been smoked, this will take seconds.
- Add the saffron (with its water) and tinned tomatoes to the casserole dish, plus enough water until the meat is just covered. Place the lid on the dish and cook in the oven/Egg for 2 hours (1 hour if the lamb was smoked).
- Take the casserole dish from the oven/Egg, remove the lid and stir the contents. Leaving the casserole dish uncovered, return it to the oven/Egg and cook/reduce for 1 – 2 hours until the meat is tender.
- Serve the lamb tagine with cooked couscous or bulgar wheat. Garnish with fresh coriander and pomegranate seeds.
Hints, Tips and Pictures
- Wash the tinned tomatoes out with water and add that to the casserole dish/Dutch oven to get the most out of the flavours.
- This can also be done with whole lamb shanks, for a Moroccan lamb meal.
- The aubergine can be smoked in advance to get some additional flavours into the dish. This doesn’t need to be done if the meat is smoked, it can lead to smoke flavour overload. Check out my blog post on cold smoking for more information.