For chanukah, my parents sent me a gorgeous Le Creuset tagine. A tagine is a traditional Moroccan pot used to prepare slow-cooked stews. Traditionally they are made from glazed ceramic, but the Le Creuset is enameled cast iron. A tagine is characterized by its wide, bowl-shaped bottom and tall conical top. Here on my stove is my lovely new Le Creuset tagine (click on any of the images for a larger image in a pop-up window):
Tonight, I broke in the tagine with a recipe from the booklet that came with it: Moroccan lamb stew with fennel and dates. First, I sauteed some garlic some very thinly sliced fennel bulb and red onion in some olive oil in the base of the tagine.
Next, I took the vegetables out of the pan and browned the lamb (in two batches, to make sure it all browned well).
Then I added some good flavorful Middle Eastern spices - cumin, coriander, cayenne, and ground ginger (along with some salt), tossed the vegetables back in, and mixed in a cup of deliciously sweet chopped dates. Finally I added a little bit of water, replaced the conical cover on the tagine, turned the heat way down, and let it cook slowly for more than two hours. Here's the result, served over cous cous with a little sauteed broccoli rabe on the side.
It was fantastic. I'm not sure I've ever cooked lamb that came out so tender. And the flavors were exquisite - the sweetness of the dates, the cayenne's bite, the savory spices, the rich lamb, the exotic fennel all blended together in a smooth synthesis that was all of those things and yet something different still. A wonderful, wonderful meal. Thanks to mom and dad for the tagine!