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Lamb Tagine with Prunes

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  • Servings: 6

Many meat tagines (slowly simmered Moroccan stews) are cooked with some sort of fruit, like apple, pear, quince or date. The luscious combination of lamb and prunes here produces a slightly sticky but complex sweet sauce that's perfect with steamed couscous or crusty bread.


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KEY: Spring, Winter, Stewing, Dinner Party, African, Soups & Stews, Make Ahead

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  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 pounds trimmed boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, halved
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, tied in a bundle with kitchen string
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 3 cups pitted prunes (14 ounces), halved
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon orange-flower water (optional)

How to make this recipe

  1. In a small dry skillet, toast the sesame seeds over moderate heat until golden, 45 seconds. Transfer the seeds to a plate.
  2. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, combine the oil, lamb, onion, cilantro, cinnamon stick, ginger, saffron, a pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook, skimming the stew a few times, until the lamb is tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, remove the onion, cilantro and cinnamon stick and discard. Add the prunes to the casserole and simmer for 15 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the lamb and prunes to a bowl. Boil the cooking liquid over high heat until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add the honey and boil for 5 minutes. Return the lamb and prunes to the casserole and stir in the orange-flower water, if using. Season with salt. Transfer the stew to a bowl, sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds and serve.

Make Ahead

The lamb tagine can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Serve With

Couscous or crusty bread.

Suggested Pairing

Prunes and honey give this lamb stew richness and a hint of sweetness, which is best matched by a deeply fruity, thick-textured Cabernet blend, such as one from Lebanon or the Languedoc region of France.

Contributed By Published March 2005

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