Saturday 27 November 2010

Jamie's Beef Tagine

We had friends round for a meal so I served tagine with couscous. It was surprisingly easy to make, and I was pleased with the result.


600g stewing beef
• olive oil
• 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
• small bunch of coriander [I had parsley]
• 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained
• 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
• 800ml vegetable stock,
• 1 small squash (approx 800g),
deseeded and cut into 5cm chunks
• 100g prunes, stoned and roughly torn [I used apricots!]
• 2 tbsps flaked almonds, toasted
For the spice rub
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 level tbsp ras el hanout spice mix* [I omitted this!]
• 1 level tbsp ground cumin
• 1 level tbsp ground cinnamon
• 1 level tbsp ground ginger
• 1 level tbsp sweet paprika

Mix all the spice rub ingredients together in a small bowl. Put the beef into a large bowl, massage it with the spice rub, then cover with clingfilm and put into the fridge for a couple of hours – ideally overnight. That way the spices really penetrate and flavour the meat.
When you’re ready to cook, heat a generous lug of olive oil in a tagine or casserole– type pan and fry the meat over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add your chopped onion and coriander stalks and fry for another 5 minutes. Tip in the chickpeas and tomatoes, then pour in 400ml of stock and stir. Bring to the boil, then put the lid on the pan or cover with foil and reduce to a simmer for 1½hours. At this point add your squash, the prunes [or apricots] and the rest of the stock. Give everything a gentle stir, then pop the lid back on the pan and continue cooking for another 1½hours. Keep an eye on it and add a splash of water if it looks too dry.**
Once the time is up, take the lid off and check the consistency. If it seems a bit too runny, simmer for 5 to 10 minutes more with the lid off. The beef should be really tender and flaking apart now, so have a taste and season with a pinch or two of salt. Scatter the coriander leaves over the tagine along with the toasted almonds, then take it straight to the table with a big bowl of lightly seasoned couscous and dive in.

*Ras el hanout (Arabic for 'top of the shop') is a blend of the best spices a vendor has in his shop. The mixture varies depending on who is selling it, but can be a combination of anywhere from 10 to 100 spices. It usually includes nutmeg, cinnamon, mace, aniseed, turmeric, cayenne, peppercorns, dried galangal, ginger, cloves, cardamom, chilli, allspice and orris root. Sainsbury’s sell “Moroccan Spice Mix” but it was £2.99 and I didn’t want to spend that much when I had lots of spices in my cupboard – so I just added some fresh ground nutmeg, a little turmeric and pounded a few cloves and peppercorns in the mortar and pestle.

The tagine was fragrant and spiced without being hot.


To the couscous I added one small, mild chilli, sliced finely [sans seeds] some spring onions, chopped mint and parsley and the zest and juice of a lemon, along with a splash of olive oil.

Time frame – first night – made the spice rub and left meat marinading in fridge overnight

second night – made the tagine this far**

third night – reheated tagine, and simmered to thicken. Made the couscous. Served the meal!

[Jamie’s recipe from website here]

Served this to my guests with a green salad [followed by a chocolate tart from IKEA – I had no inspiration left for a home-made pud!]

We had seconds – but there was still enough tagine and couscous left for a decent lunch for two.

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