Makes 4 servings
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan
1 cup chicken broth
2 oz moist, plump dried apricots
About 6 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound boneless lamb shoulder, fat removed, cut into cubes about 1 1/2 inches on a side (we used lamb stew meat)
2 medium onions, peeled, trimmed and coarsely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled, trimmed, germ removed and finely chopped
One half 14 1/2 - ounce can diced tomatoes, drained, or 2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and crushed
1-1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds, cracked (I used ground)
2 large pinches saffron
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
About 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Couscous or rice, for serving
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
If you're using the bouillon cubes (it's what Dorie's friend Francoise uses), drop them into a medium-size bowl and pour over 1 3/4 cups of boiling water; stir to dissolve. If you're using chicken broth, bring it to the boil, then pour it into the bowl. Add the apricots to the bowl and let them soak and plump while you prepare the rest of the tagine.
Put the base of a tagine, a heavy, high-sided skillet or a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and pour in 3 tablespoons of the oil. Pat the pieces of lamb dry between sheets of paper towels, then drop them into the hot oil - don't crowd the pan; work in batches, if necessary - and brown the meat on all sides, about 4 minutes. Lift the meat out of the pot and onto a plate with a slotted spoon. Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Pour out the fat that it's in the pan, but leave whatever bits may have stuck to the base.
Return the pan to the stove, adjust the heat to low and add 2 more tablespoons of the olive oil. When the oil is warm, stir in the onions and garlic and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, just to get them started on the road to softening. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and continue to cook, stirring often, for another 10 minutes, adding a little more oil, if needed. Add the chicken bouillon/broth to the pot as well as the coriander, saffron - crush the saffron between your fingers as you sprinkle it into the pot - ginger, cumin, cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of the chopped cilantro leaves. Stir to mix and dissolve the spices, season with salt and pepper and spoon the meat over the base of vegetables. Top with the plumped apricots, seal the pan with aluminum foil and clap on the lid. Slide the pan into the oven.
Bake the tagine for 60 minutes before carefully lifting the lid and foil and scattering the almonds over the meat. Recover the pan and allow the tagine to bake for 15 minutes more. You can also just toast the almonds and scatter them over the dish when serving.
Serving: If you've cooked it in a tagine, sprinkle the remaining cilantro over the meat, bring the tagine to the table and serve directly from the pan. If you've used a skillet or Dutch oven, transfer the tagine to a warm large serving platter and dust with cilantro. This is fabulous served with spicy Harissa sauce on the side.
If you make the dish ahead, add the toasted almonds when you reheat the tagine for serving.
Click here to read the related story on my other blog foodhoe's foraging.