As the days grow shorter and the nights chillier, I am reminded that the time for cardigans and closed shoes is on its way. So too is the time for snuggling down in comfort zones and for melt-in-the-mouth dishes cooked low and slow.
Lamb has to be my number one choice for any low and slow stew. It stays moist and marries well with practically any herb or spice. But it’s a hand-down winner in a tagine heady with the perfume of Ras el Hanout.
This Moroccan spice blend contains all the usual suspects I would normally use in a tagine – cumin, coriander, chilli, ginger and cinnamon. It’s the addition of all spice, spearmint, cloves and rose petals that elevate it to a fragrant gem that transforms this dish.
I used a porcelain tagine dish to cook this in, but if you don’t have one, any large ovenproof cast iron roaster with a lid will do. At a push, you can even cook it on the stove-top.
– YOU WILL NEED –
700g lamb knuckle
4 tbs flour
1½ cups finely diced onion
2 fat cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs eat.art Ras el Hanout
1 lamb stock cube
10 dried soft Turkish apricots
2 cups water
salt to taste
pomegranate, mint leaves and toasted almond flakes to garnish
– METHOD –
Preheat your oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Roll the lamb knuckle in the flour to coat and dust off gently. Fry the lamb knuckles in a few tablespoons of olive oil until brown and nicely caramelised. Place the knuckle in the bottom of a tagine dish or an ovenproof roaster.
Fry the onion in the same pan as the knuckle, stirring to lift all those lovely brown bits from the bottom. Once it starts to soften, add the garlic and eat.art Ras el Hanout and fry for a few seconds.
Deglaze the pan with two cups of water and crumble in the lamb stock cube. Boil for a few minutes then taste for salt. It will need salt, but the amount will depend on the saltiness of the stock cube brand used. Gently pour the sauce over the lamb knuckle, leaving as much of the onion on top of the knuckle as possible – it really flavours the knuckle during a low and slow cook. Add the prunes, put on the tagine or roaster lid and in the oven it goes for an hour.
Take it out after an hour, check to see if it needs a touch more liquid and add the apricots. Back in the oven for another 1-1½ hours it goes until it is fall-off-the-bone soft.
Garnish it with pomegranate rubies, toasted almonds and mint leaves and serve it with cous cous, bulghur wheat or brown rice. If you are sensitive to spice, also serve a dollop of full cream plain yoghurt on the side to cool the palate.
Written by: Lizet Hartley
Lizet Hartley is a freelance stills and reel food stylist, food photographer and recipe developer. In her spare time she – rather predictably – cooks. Get more of her recipes on her blog at http://www.melkkos-merlot.co.za