Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Beef & Pea Tagine

I do love tagines: not least of all as I love the fact that you chuck it all in, forget about it and come back to something deliciously fragrant and warming. It’s just a shame that I don’t have my tagine at the moment (as naturally it is still in storage somewhere or other) but a cast iron lidded casserole can work just as well.

I’ve used culinary Argan oil here as I picked some up (as well as saffron) on our trip earlier last year to Marrakech but feel free to use olive oil. And on the subject of saffron, a tip I read somewhere on the interweb was to carefully warm it up in a dry frying pan over a fairly low heat before crumbling it with your fingers. Apparently this method will help to release the best fragrance and flavour.

To be honest you could use any veg you wanted - or meat for that matter. I’d actually wanted to get sweet potatoes but the rubbish little Sainsbury near work didn’t have any so normal spuds it had to be. I’d love to try fresh artichoke and peas as although it would undoubtedly be a bit of a faff I bet it would be luscious.

Beef & Pea Tagine
Serves 3-4

1 tbsp Argan oil
400g stewing beef, cut into 1.5 in chunks
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
20g knob ginger, finely shredded
1 cinnamon stick
2 tsp ground coriander
¾ tsp cumin
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ras el hanout
¼ tsp saffron threads, lightly toasted & crumbled
500g potatoes, peeled and cut into 5cm chunks
Peel of ½ orange
200g peas
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1½ tbsp flaked almonds, toasted
handful of coriander leaves, chopped

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Pour a good splash of oil into a heavy based casserole dish, heat it then add the beef and brown on all sides.

Add the onion, ginger and garlic to the meat (add a little more oil if you need to) and cook for 10 minutes or so until the onion is softened then stir in the spices (bar the saffron).

Cook for about 30 seconds before chucking the potatoes, orange peel, and tomatoes into the pot.

Season well then pour over enough water to just cover everything, giving it a gentle stir before bringing to the boil.

Take off the heat, cover with a lid and pop in the oven.

After about 1½ hours both the meat and potatoes should be tender so add the peas and saffron (and top up the water if necessary) and cook for 30 minutes longer.

Double check seasoning and adjust carefully as necessary. The amount of sauce at this point should be fine but again, if necessary, reduce the liquids until a rich sauce has formed.

Serve with steamed couscous with the almonds and chopped coriander sprinkled over.

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