It’s hard to believe that French Fridays with Dorie has less than two dozen recipes left to complete cooking all the way through Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table. Some of the ones left are amongst the less appealing, but there are still a smattering of recipes that are tempting, as with this week’s Lamb and Dried Apricot Tagine.
I’ve been a loyal participant, barely skipping any recipes. I do have a handful, about half a dozen, that I need to catch up on so that when we pass the finish line this spring, I will have a full sense of accomplishment about this project.
Lamb tagine is the perfect thing to make when the weather outside is frightful, and you don’t want to leave the house. When your kitchen smells like distant sunny places, you just know that dinner will be warm and hearty which makes it easier to get through a gray and dismal afternoon.
As with most stews, whether pedestrian or exotic, making tagine is simple, especially if you start with boneless meat. Alas, I can never find boneless lamb shoulder. Between the blades and joints, shoulders have many odd shaped bones and a ton of fat. So I just cranked up the podcast playlist on my phone and worked away with my knife. The perfect podcast was in my lineup: Dorie herself was being interviewed (along with Christine Muhlke, executive editor at Bon Appetit) on one of my new favorite shows, Radio Cherry Bombe with Julia Turshen from Heritage Radio.
Once I’d transformed a pile of shoulder chops into a pile of boneless lamb chunks, the rest was smooth sailing. First, the lamb is browned. Then, the sauce gets started. Chopped onions and garlic are softened, canned tomatoes are added, then some stock. Finally, an array of Moroccan spices are stirred into the pot: a chile pepper, cracked coriander seeds, grated fresh ginger, a couple pinches of saffron, cumin, cinnamon, and some chopped cilantro.
Browned lamb and dried apricots are layered on top of the sauce before sealing up the pot and popping it in the oven. Now the hardest part is waiting for the fragrant pot to simmer and do its magic while the aroma from the oven makes you dream of a shopping expedition in a faraway souk.
And it is worth the wait. I served the tagine over couscous and sprinkled with more fresh cilantro and some toasted almonds. It was fantastic! I was able to continue my Moroccan fantasy over dinner.
Of course, anyone who follows my blog might anticipate how this went over with Howard, the man who won’t eat fruit in savory dishes. I was hopeful because his sister makes a delicious lamb stew with prunes which he has previously eaten and enjoyed. However, at our house, he picked the fruit out and added them to my plate. When I asked him how it liked it, he said, “Well, if you’d used carrots, I’d give it 5 stars, but with apricots, it only gets a 3.” That’s promising and a good idea for a future riff on this dish. Next time, I’ll try substituting some thickly sliced carrots for half of the apricots, adding a similar burst of orange color and, because I’m eating all the apricots, keep the proportion of fruit I consume the same. If serving to company, I would just add carrots and use the original amount of apricots.
Thanks to everyone for your delightful birthday wishes. With each thoughtful message received from my friends and family, my day was made that much more special. I enjoyed a multi-day celebration, filled with good company and delicious food. I LOVE birthdays, mine or anyone else’s!
It’s another confetti recipe for French Fridays with Dorie. This week it’s a Couscous Salad.
I didn’t really think much about it. I just gathered my ingredients, switched around a few things because of what I had on hand, and blindly made the salad. When I looked at the finished bowl, I was wowed! The bowl was colorful, the flavors were varied, and I couldn’t stop eating it.
This couscous salad has a Moroccan flair. First, the couscous is cooked with warm-flavored spices (ginger, cumin, cinnamon), garlic, and turmeric for color. I made half the amount of couscous (also halving the liquid and spices), but didn’t adjust the other ingredients, so there was a little less grain per bite, but this still made a gigantic bowl.
Dorie said she usually adds what she has on hand, so I took that as license to tweak the salad to work for me. Anyone who has followed my blog for a while will know that raisins weren’t going to fly at my house… I used my favorite savory substitute for raisins, oil-cured olives (from Morocco, no less). For the lemon zest, I minced some of the preserved lemon I had leftover from our last confetti dish, tuna confit. And, finally,I used a purple (not red) pepper and, because peas are no longer in season here, I blanched some green and wax beans, and sliced them thinly.
This could easily be the vegetarian star of a summer meal. I really loved it!
If you’d like to try this yourself, you can find the recipe in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table. It’s also on-line at Epicurious To see whether the other Doristas liked this as much as I did, check out their links here.