BY ANNA OLSON
The word “tagine” refers both to the earthenware dish with a cone-shaped lid AND the stew that is made within it. You don’t need this dish to make the stew – a heavy-bottomed pot with a good lid will do the trick, producing an aromatic beef stew with a contrast of sweet and savoury flavours within it.
- Pinch saffron
- 2 Tbsp (15 mL) vegetable or olive oil
- 1 ¼ lbs (600 g) Canadian blade or inside round beef, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm cubes)
- 2 cups (250 g) peeled & diced onions (2 medium)
- 1 ½ cups (250 g) peeled and diced carrot (2-3 medium)
- 2 tsp (6 g) sweet paprika
- 2 tsp (6 g) ground turmeric
- 1 ½ tsp (4.5 g) ground cumin
- 1 tsp (3 g) ground ginger
- 1 tsp (3 g) ground cinnamon
- 1 tin (540 mL) diced tomatoes
- 1 ½ cups (375 mL) beef stock
- ½ cup (75 g) raisins
- 4-6 pitted Medjool dates, chopped
- salt & pepper
- ¼ cup (25 g) lightly toasted sliced almonds
- ¼ cup (60 mL) fresh coriander leaves
- minted lemon couscous (recipe follows)
- lemon wedges, for serving
- 1 ½ cups (375 mL) whole wheat couscous
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 ¼ cups (560 mL) boiling water
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup (60 mL) chopped fresh mint, cut in thin strips across the width of the leaves (chiffonade)
- salt & pepper
- Drop the saffron threads into a glass with a few tablespoons of hot water and set aside.
- Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet (with a lid) over high heat and add the oil. Add the beef, enough to cover the bottom of the pan in a single layer without crowding (sear in batches, if it all doesn’t fit) and brown on all sides, about 4 minutes. Remove to a plate and reduce the heat to medium.
- Add the onion and carrot and sauté until the onions turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the paprika, turmeric, cumin, ginger, and cinnamon and sauté one minute, to warm up the spices. Add the diced tomato, stock and saffron water and bring to a simmer. Add back the beef, cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 90 minutes to 2 hours, until the beef yields easily when pierced with a fork. During the last 15 minutes, ad the raisins and dates. Season to taste.
- Serve the tagine topped with sliced almonds and coriander leaves, over minted lemon couscous and lemon on the side.
- Place the couscous in a large, heatproof bowl and grate the lemon zest over it. Pour the boiling water over the couscous, stir and cover the bowl with plastic wrap until it cools to room temperature.
- Use a fork to fluff up the couscous, re-warming if needed, to serve (microwave is easiest). Toss the couscous with the green ions and mint and season to taste right before serving.
* Inside round is a lean cut, but because it is not as tender as “upper cuts”, it does suit braising. The key to a tender result is time. Don’t shortchange yourself on the cooking time. That said, the smaller you dice the beef, the quicker it will reach that juicy fork-tender stage.
* The raisins and dates are added towards the end of cooking. If added at the beginning, they would cook away, disappearing into the liquid and their flavor would be lost.
* Of course, you can switch up the dried fruits to other sweet options such as prunes or apricots, or they can be replaced with a diced apple if dried fruits are preferred.
* This dish can also be prepared in a slow cooker. Simply place all of the ingredients (except the dried fruits & almonds) in a slow cooker, cover and set on medium to cook 5 hours and then hold warm.