Monday, March 31, 2014

A Morrocan Beef and Vegetable Tagine

So I'm once again venturing outside of my cookbooks and my comfort zone to try something new and different. Inspired by my bright and sunny jar of lemons slowly being salted on the counter top, I ventured to North Africa to make a rich and savory Tagine--though I should say a stew since I made it in my crock pot not one of these gorgeous dishes. I don't have any cookbooks with Morrocan recipes in it, but with two key ingredients in mind and a little google-fu I found a bunch of ideas and made this dish up as I went along. This is largely inspired by Jamie Oliver's recipe as interpreted by this blog post. I made a number of changes and additions--but it is essentially a stew, so it is pretty flexible!


12 oz beef sirloin steak
1 1/2 lbs butternut squash pealed and chopped
2 cans diced tomatos
3 cups vegetable broth
1 yellow onion
1 medium head cauliflower
1 large egg plant
4 cloves garlic
1 small bunch cilantro
Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
2 tsp  Ras El Hanout Spice mix
2 tsp ground Cumin
2 tsp ground Cinnamon
2 tsp ground Ginger
2 tsp Sweet Paprika
Harissa to taste

 The first step is to prepare the dry rub. I was surprised to find the ras el hanout at Winco--and it was 2$ for the whole jar--that is not a lot! I had the rest of the spices--though this cleans me out of cumin and ginger, both of which I use a lot of in my cooking. I cut the steak up into cubes and tossed it in the spice rub. Ideally, I would have left it in the fridge for the seasoning to really infuse the meat. But I didn't get going until too late--and it was only in the fridge for about an hour.

The meat is lightly browned on all sides and then diced onion is added along with the chopped stems of the cilantro. These are sauteed until they slightly softened and then I slowly added the broth to de-glaze the pan. There was so much of the spices that sort of stuck to the pan that this was an important step--it toasted the spices and got them into the broth, which thickened it.

At this point I poured it all into the slow-cooker, along with two cans of diced tomatoes. The original recipe called for garbanzo beans, but I felt like I had enough protein with the beef and enough fiber from all the veggies. That got stirred up pretty well, and cooked for two hours on high. While that cooked I pealed and chopped the butternut squash and cut and salted the eggplant.

I added half of the butternut squash after 2 hours of cooking, and the rest after 3.5 hours. This allowed some to really break down and become part of the sauce, while some still had some texture left at the end. I also added some of the harissa to the pot to increase the spice.

While that continued to cook, I chopped the cauliflower and tossed it with some harrisa and lemon juice to marinate before being added to the pot. That went into the pot at the same time as the rest of the butternut squash. The eggplant, which doesn't need as much time to cook was added at about 4.5 hours.

At this point it was almost 9 p.m. and I was pretty hungry--though I'd been nibbling on the butternut squash and tasting the beef all along. I stirred in more harrisa, and served it with some chopped fresh cilantro on top. Total cooking time was 6 hrs on high, though it should have gone a bit more. to get the beef equally tender.

The Verdict: This is a rich and hearty stew--with very complex and developed flavors from all of the time cooking. The veggies provide a variety of textures, from some very soft butternut squash, to the cauliflower that still has some bite. Some of the beef was really tender and some was still pretty chewy--I think this is more the type of beef I used, I should have gotten more of a fatty cut and cooked longer and lower. It was still very good and I'm excited to play around with these flavors!

No comments:

Post a Comment