Here in the Northeast U.S., we’re in the throes of an arctic chill. The kind that makes you wish you were lounging somewhere in the Caribbean until April.
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups chicken stock
pinch of saffron
6 dried figs, cut into quarters (or 12 prunes)
1 preserved lemon (4 quarters), rinsed, pulp discarded, thinly sliced
steamed couscous (or potatoes) for serving
parsley or cilantro sprigs, for garnish
Add lamb to a large resealable plastic bag. Combine spices and pour over
lamb, seal bag, and shake until lamb is coated in mixture. Let marinate
in refrigerator overnight or for at least 1 hour. Let lamb rest at room
temperature for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare the bouquet garni by combining
cilantro and parsley sprigs on a square piece of cheesecloth. Bring
corners together and tie securely with kitchen twine.
Heat a seasoned 13-inch tagine, with a heat diffuser, over medium heat.
Drizzle a thin layer of olive oil in the bottom. Season the marinated
lamb chunks with salt and pepper. Sear in batches until brown all over.
Refresh oil as needed. Remove to a plate.
Add onion and a pinch of salt and saute, scraping up any brown bits,
until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute until
fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes with their juice and bouquet
garni. Add back seared lamb. Cover with stock. Crumble in saffron and
season with salt and pepper. Slowly bring liquid to a simmer. Cover with
lid and place in oven for 2 – 2 1/2 hours. Half way through cooking time, check
to make sure lamb is still covered by liquid. Additional stock can be
added. Add cooked carrots, figs (or prunes), olives and preserved lemon slices 20 minutes toward end of
cooking time. If too much liquid, leave the lid off so evaporation can occur. Check seasoning. Serve over couscous (or with potatoes) and top with toasted
almonds and cilantro. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.