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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lamb Tagine with Chickpeas and Apricots

With the hint of fall in the air, I felt inspired to get in the kitchen this weekend. On my mind: a recipe for lamb tagine from the October issue of Bon Appetit.

Lamb Tagine with Chickpeas and Apricots

The recipe called for a Middle Eastern spice mix called Ras-El-Hanout:
1 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

Definitely a test to see if one has a well-stocked spice pantry! I bought coriander, since it was such a major ingredient, and I refreshed our stash of cumin, since that's something I use pretty often. I ground some cinnamon and cardamom with Kurt's handy spice mill and just left out the ginger and turmeric.
It was a pretty simple recipe, though it did require two trips to Western Beef in Chelsea. Kurt thought they would have the most inexpensive lamb. It was inexpensive indeed -- $14 for four pounds of cubed bone-in shoulder! -- but Ernie the butcher had to thaw some out for me overnight, hence the two trips.

I browned the lamb cubes in olive oil then sauteed an onion and added some chopped garlic and chopped ginger with the spice blend. After a few minutes of warming up the fragrant spices, I returned the lamb to the pot with two cans of chicken broth and a can of diced tomatoes. 

Then I put a lid on it and let it simmer. After an hour and a half, I added the chickpeas (soaked overnight and simmered with garlic and cinnamon), dried apricots and dried plums. (I thought 1/2 cup of dried apricots seemed a little skimpy for a stew that would serve 6-8, and Western Beef was a little limited in its dried fruit selection, so I went with the plums -- notice I am calling them by their "new branding," not that other grandmotherly word!)
Travis walked down from the Upper East Side to join us for dinner. I topped the stew with chopped cilantro and served it with a salad of grapefruit, pomegranate seeds and avocado.
I thought the flavor of the stew was quite fantastic (and enjoyed another serving of it on Monday night as well), but the bone-in meat is a bit indelicate to eat. As my mom would say, probably not something to serve when I'm trying to impress my future mother-in-law!
Dessert was pure yumminess! Travis stopped by the Milk Bar on his walk downtown and got us a three-flavor sampler pie: candy bar pie, grasshopper pie and the famous crack pie. HOLY COW!!!
Naturally we all needed to have a little sliver of each one -- just for taste testing purposes, you understand. Proof that good things come in threes!

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