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Lamb and Prune Tagine

This sweetly spiced tagine is typical of the Moroccan love of sweet and savory flavors in the same dish.

By December 2002Comments

3 pound lamb shoulder chops (or shoulder of lamb) cut
into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
generous pinch of saffron threads
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 small onions, finely chopped
3/4 pound pitted prunes cut into quarters, or large raisins
4 tablespoons honey or sugar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
salt and pepper, to taste
zest of one lemon, for garnish

Trim the fat from the meat. Melt half the butter with the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy, lidded casserole. Add the cinnamon stick, half the ground cinnamon, the saffron, ginger, onions, and meat. Cook the meat gently, turning onto each side for about 5 minutes, then add enough water to barely cover. Bring to a boil, season with salt, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.

Add the prunes, the remaining cinnamon, and the honey to the lamb. Continue to simmer for another 30 minutes, or until the prunes have plumped up and the meat is very tender. Remove the meat and prunes.

Increase the heat and boil the sauce until it is thick. Stir in the remaining butter, taste, and adjust the seasoning. Return the meat and prunes to the sauce, heat through, and transfer to an attractive, deep serving dish (ideally a Moroccan tagine) or a platter. Scatter the sesame seeds over the top, garnish with lemon zest, and serve with couscous.

Serves 6.

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