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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lamb and Apricot Tagine--Gutsy Cooks

Last Christmas, I got a lovely Emile Henry tagine. I just had to have it. But, like so many things that at the moment appear to be necessities, this turned out not to be strictly so, and I hadn't even opened the box until this tagine assignment came around for the Gutsy Cooks, (or "the Gutsies," as Jackie calls us.)
I sort of knew vaguely what a tagine was--both a cooking utensil and a cooking dish, but I thought it might be complicated to use the utensil and to make the dish. Neither turned out to be true. The bottom part of the tagine is actually shaped quite nicely for browning meat and onions.
I cut the amount of meat in half, but kept the spices at the same amount, effectively doubling them, since I've found some of the dishes in this cookbook to be rather bland and underseasoned. For the same reason I decided to add a bit of harissa. Then I decided I might as well add another bit.
Some liquids are added--I used more chicken broth and less orange juice because I wanted the dish to have a hint of sweetness, but not to be overly sweet. Then the tagine goes into the oven for about an hour. It smelled heavenly. Jim noticed and said the same thing (although he didn't use the word "heavenly"); then he said, "Oh, wait--this is from the bad cookbook, isn't it?" He hasn't forgiven The Illustrated Kitchen Bible for the roulade and the empanadas.
But he loved the looks and the smell when I took the tagine out of the oven and added the dried apricots.
Another 20 minutes in the oven. Meanwhile, I made some couscous and scrubbed and cooked the baby carrots from the last Farmers' Market of the season. (We got about 8 inches of snow that day, so I know it's really the last market).
I sprinkled a little parsley (inauthentic, I know, but it's what I had) over the tagine for color.
And served.

Wow--is this stuff good! I probably shouldn't have put that second dab of harissa into the mix because it was hot and spicy enough that some of the other flavors got lost. Still, even with the hotness, you could taste the spices and the sweetness of the apricots and orange juice. Jim loved it. He'll never be able to call it "the bad cookkbook" again.

Taste-O-Meter Ratings:
Jim: "I'll give it a 9.5. I might give it a 10, but I don't know what else is coming, and there might be something I like even better, but this is delicious. I know you don't like to make things over and over again, but I hope you'll make this again. I don't think the two spoons of harissa were too many."

Marie: "I'm pleased with it myself, but I'll give it a 9 because I think I had too heavy a hand with the harissa."


  1. Marie, beautiful Tagine - and I meant both the Emile Henry's apparatus and the dish itself. Very creative of you to use harissa. Jim's comment about the "bad" cookbook made me laugh!

  2. Jenn,
    Jim takes his food seriously!

  3. Well, with all the cooking and baking that you are doing, he'd better be!

    Btw, how do you juggle being in HCB, GC, FFWD, and bread baking? I guess this is where the fearless public defender skills come in? :)

  4. Jenn,
    The fearless public defender retired a few months ago. Now I have time to cook, bake, and blog almost every day!

  5. Oh wow, Marie, congrats on the retirement! I hope to get there someday :).

  6. Like Jenn, I also laughed out loud with Jim's comment about the "Bad cookbook". Slowly we will change is mind. With over 1000, I don't doubt there will be some that are not going to be proud pleasers. But, the stews are always a hit, glad you guys like it. I’m thinking the chicken wrap in pancetta will be a winner as well.

    Like you, I tend to over season as well - call it the Latin influence in me - I like everything to have a "Knick"!

    And congrats on the retirement as well... *sigh* wish I could have the whole day to bake, cook and blog. (That is why I just told Tom to don't forget to buy a lotto ticket!). LOL

  7. Monica and Jenn,
    Thanks for the good wishes. I planned to work many years more, but things came together and made it a good time for me to retire. I'm doing a lot of volunteer work, so I exaggerate when I say I can cook, bake, and blog every day. But I've become a big fan of retirement! Always thought there wouldn't be enough to do, and it turns out I'm busier than ever. (Although I sleep in every morning). :-)