Thursday, March 3, 2011

First Planned Meal: Two Thumbs Up!

Last night I made the first of four meals I’ve planned (thus far).  It was my take on Emile Henry’s Classic Tagine.  (I was going to include the link for the original recipe, but it's not longer valid.)  I actually started this Tuesday since the meat had to marinate eight hours or overnight.  The original recipe uses lamb.  My jury is still out on lamb.  I’ve had it several times, but only once that I kind of liked it.  Given that, and the fact that I didn’t have any lamb, I used some steak we had in the freezer. 

The spice mix for marinating the beef smelled so amazing.  I may have even eaten lamb with that spice mix.  It really made me not want to wait.  I'm not really good at waiting.  Which is why when I was re-reading the recipe last night and noticed the 1-1/2 to 2 hours cooking time, I literally gasped.  I should have known better, but I was hungry!!  Thank goodness I'd done most of the prep work on Tuesday.

I didn't really following the cooking directions very closely, due to said hunger.  And I had planned on making some couscous to go along with the tagine.  The original recipe included the option of thickening the cooking liquid with a corn starch slurry.  Since I'd used the last of my chicken stock in the tagine, I decided I would just cook the couscous along with it and let it soak up some of the excess cooking liquid.  It turned out quite well.  The hubs really did give it two thumbs up.

Whenever I try a new recipe, the definitive question is,
"Will you eat this again?"  The answer was a definitive "YES!"

I had asked him to pick up some wine to go with dinner.  On the recommendation of the manager at Westroads, he came home with Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel.  If you like big, bold, red wines (which I do) I highly recommend it.  It went very nicely with the meal.  Given the headache I woke up with, I do think I drank a little too much of it though.  But that doesn't take much.

The following is my version of the recipe.  As I said, I used beef instead of lamb, and cooked the couscous in the tagine.  I also used regular tomato paste instead of sun-dried tomato paste.

Dawn’s Neo Classic Tagine 
4 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 lb lean beef, cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes
2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 pinch saffron
3/4 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp ground coriander
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 carrots, peeled, cut into fourths, then sliced lengthwise into thin planks
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 Tbs minced or grated fresh ginger
1 lemon, zested
1 (14.5 ounce) can low-sodium chicken broth or homemade chicken stock
1-1/2 tsp tomato paste
1-1/2 tsp honey
1 cup Israeli couscous
Chopped parsley for garnish

Place beef in a bowl, toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and set aside. In a large re-sealable bag, toss together the paprika, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, salt, ginger, saffron, garlic powder, and coriander; mix well. Add the beef to the bag, and toss around to coat well. Refrigerate at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the beef and brown well. Add onions and carrots to the pot and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and ginger; continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest, chicken broth, tomato paste, and honey. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 – 1-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender.
Add the couscous 15 minutes before serving.  Cover and continue cooking over low heat.  Serve garnished with chopped parsley.

Serves 4 – 6.