Meal Type: Dinner
Cook time: 3 hours
This gorgeously fragrant tagine is packed with exotic spices and rich flavours. Tagine is the name of the funnel-shaped cooking pot traditionally used in Morocco but you can cook this in any large casserole that can be used both on the hotplates and in the oven. Long slow cooking in the simmering oven results in wonderfully tender meat that just falls apart.
- Olive oil
- 800g neck fillet of lamb (or boneless shoulder)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
- 2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Pinch saffron, soaked in 2 tbsp. hot water
- 1 tbsp. runny honey
- 600g tinned tomatoes (1 ½ standard tins)
- 100g dried apricots, quartered
- 50g dates, chopped
- 150-300ml. approx. water or stock
- 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
You may need...
1. Cut the lamb into bite-sized chunks. Heat a generous glug of oil in a casserole dish on the boiling plate. Brown the venison in small batches and set to one side. You can do this either on the boiling plate or on the floor of the roasting oven.
2. Move the pan to the simmering plate – add a touch more oil if necessary though there should be enough fat remaining from browning the lamb. Add the onions and cook gently until soft – do not brown. Start this on the simmering plate then add a lid and transfer to the simmering oven for 10 minutes, if wished.
3. With the pan of softened onions on the simmering plate, add the garlic and cook for a minute before adding the dry spices. Stir to coat the onions and cook for a further minute or so before returning the browned lamb to the pan. Add the saffron and soaking liquid, honey, tomatoes and dried fruit.
4. Add enough water or stock to just cover the meat – remember very little liquid is lost during cooking in the Aga range cooker so you may only need a little. Season and bring to the boil on the boiling plate. Once bubbling, cover with a lid and transfer to the simmering oven for a minimum of 2 ½ hours.
5. 40 minutes before you are ready to eat, stir in the chickpeas and return to the simmering oven.
6. Before serving, check the liquid level of the tagine. If you feel it is too runny, remove the lid and bubble on the floor of the roasting oven for a few minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened to your liking.
7. Serve the tagine sprinkled with chopped pistachios, coriander and pomegranate seeds.
Aga Range Cooker tips:
Lamb neck fillet is a flavoursome cut which benefits from long, slow cooking. Whilst the meat should be tender after 2 ½ hours in the simmering oven, for convenience, I usually cook for much longer. The heat of the simmering oven is so gentle though that you can leave the tagine to cook for much longer if required, without it drying out. I often prepare dishes such as this in the morning and let them cook gently all day, ready to serve in the evening.
Browning meat on the floor of the roasting oven means you can keep your lids down – useful if you have a traditional model of Aga range cooker and want to preserve heat in the ovens. It also means that any oily splatters occur in the oven rather than on your shiny enamel tops!
My family like the dried fruit chopped into small pieces in a tagine but, if preferred, you can leave the apricots and dates whole or halved for large chunks instead.