According to Wikipedia, a tagine is an historically Berber dish from North Africa that is named after the special earthenware pot in which it is cooked. The pot is usually 2 pieces; a flat bottom piece and a cone-shaped top that sits on top as the meal cooks. In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that I do not actually own a tagine...but it is not for the lack of lusting after one...especially a Le Creuset one.
But, I've been trying to live the Alton way and steer clearer of "uni tasker"kitchen ware and utensils. (And who are we kidding--the price is just kind of prohibitive, too. Although, I do haunt the local TJ Maxx-type stores in hopes that one day, like shining star, one will appear and be in my price range, i.e. cheap!)
And, since a tagine is essentially a slow-cooked stew, braising meat and vegetables at a low temperature for a long period, I can certainly pull this off with one of the Dutch ovens that I already own...colorful as they are, just not as exotic as an actual tagine.
I found a recipe on CookingLight.com for a beef tagine that sounded pretty good, but wasn't exactly what the definition of tagine leads you to believe...it was going to be tagine in 30 minutes or so, a la Rachael Ray.
Remember the part above...the part about a tagine being a "slow-cooked stew, braising meat and vegetables at a low temperature for a long period"? Yeah, this didn't seem to really be the case, and I was kind of curious about what the reviewers of this recipe thought.
(As a side note, do you not positively hate people who review recipes on websites and totally change all the ingredients around, along with cooking method or time, and then say it was bad? Really? What recipe did you really make? Annoys the crap out of me...along with the whiny reviewers who decide that it sounds "icky" and want to rate it poorly without actually trying to make the dish.)
Many of the Cooking Light reviewers recommended dumping the original stove top methodology and going for an actual braise in a 325-degree oven for 90 minutes or so. So, I thought, what the heck, I can tinker with this, too. So, I upped the temperature a little bit and cut down on the time...and again, in the interest of full disclosure, it was because I was hungry and wanted it done faster.
Beef Tangine with Butternut Squash
(Adapted from Cooking Light, December 2010)
Ingredients (and there are a few!)
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika (regular paprika is in the original recipe, but smoked is much more fun!)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound beef stew meat, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 shallots, quartered(I also tried this with sliced onion, too)
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/2 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained (preferably no-salt-added)
- 3 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 pound)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add beef; toss well to coat.
2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add beef and shallots; cook 4 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally.
3. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in broth and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes.
4. Add squash; cover and place in oven for 1 hour.
Throw a spoonful of couscous in a bowl, ladle some of this amazing stew over it, and sprinkle with some fresh cilantro...heaven in a bowl! Makes 4 1.5-cup servings.
I really don't think it would have been as good if made as the original 30-minute version. With the amount of spices used, and the spices themselves, those are some bold flavors that need time to develop, and 30 minutes is just not going to get it.
And, while I am sure it would have been fabulous and amazing in a real tagine, it was pretty fabulous and amazing in my little red Dutch oven. Amazon does have some pretty and functional tagines at a fraction of the Le Creuset cost, so maybe I can spring for one as a little giftie to myself.
(Of course, now that I have time to cook some comfy stewy things, it was about 70 degrees F here today, with possible tornadic activity later this evening. I love the South!)