Tagine with lamb and pears

P1010791

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 2-3 hours

The ingredients: for 4 persons

  • 1,2 kg leg of lamb cut in thick slices/pieces
  • 1 piece of fresh ginger (4 cm)
  • 3 beef tomatoes
  • 3 pears
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 preserved lemon or lime (2 halves)
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • 1-2 red chilis
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1,5 tbsp. tajine herbs
  • ½ tsp. saffron
  • Fresh coriander (a handful)
  • Fresh mint (a handful)
  • Fresh leaf parsley (a handful)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cubes of vegetable stock
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

The work:

Preheat the oven at 180°C.

Peal and grate the ginger. Chop the onion. Cut the garlic and chili very fine. Make a bundle of the stems of the green herbs.

Heat the oil in a baking pan and bake the meat on both sides until brown, adding salt & pepper. Add the onion and the garlic. After a couple of minutes, add the spices: red chili, cinnamon powder, cinnamon stick, ginger, the bay leaves, saffron, tagine herbs, and stir for about a minute.

Add the content of the pan in the tagine and add tomatoes on top, and the cubes of vegetable stock. Fill the tagine with water until the meat is covered. Dress the bundle of the stems in the stock. Close the tagine and put it in the oven. Check after about an hour how tender the meat is, but it is well possible that you will have to leave it 1,5 to 2 hours depending on the lamb.

While this is in the oven, peel the pears, remove the core and cut them in 4 pieces.

If you have the feeling the meat is just about tender, then take out the bundle of stems, dress the pears nicely on top of the meat. Add the lemon, the lemon juice and the honey. Close the lid again and cook 30 minutes in the oven until the pears are tender.

To serve: sprinkle the leaves of coriander, parsley and mint over the tagines’ content.

The Tip:

Serve with couscous and Harissa. When you serve with couscous it is important to serve enough of the tagine’s juice.

The Secret:

Take your time to ensure the meat is tender. Don’t follow the cooking time; follow the tenderness of the meat. You cannot overcook lamb. If in doubt, add 30 minutes more to the cooking time.

It is difficult to reproduce the same taste twice, all the ingredients (and there are many), especially the tagine herbs are distinctive for the recipe’s taste. But can you ever buy the same constellation twice?

Although I’m personally not a couscous lover, I must honestly confess, this recipe is by far the biggest taste sensation I know.

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Thai style mussels

P1010789

Preperation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

The ingredients: 4-6 people

  • 1 kg mussels
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 piece of fresh ginger (2 cm)
  • 2-3 fresh small red chili peppers (depends on how spicy you like it)
  • 4 stalks of lemon grass
  • 4 dried lemon leaves
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 large glass of white wine
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • Fresh green herbs: coriander, basil, mint
  • 1 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tsp. trassie
  • 2 cubes fish stock
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

The work:

Clean and rinse the mussels extensively. Grate the ginger, the garlic, the lemon grass & the red chili’s. Cut the celery and the shallots.

Heat the olive oil in the wok and braise the onions and the garlic. After a few minutes, add the rest of the grated ingredients. When this mix has baked shortly, add the mussels, the white wine, the fish stock, the fish sauce, the trassie, the lemon leaves and season with salt & pepper.

Close the lid and cook until the mussels open (typically 10 minutes). Now add the juice of 1 lemon and the coconut milk and stir to disperse the taste. Add the coarsely chopped leaves of the green herbs, stir and serve immediately.

The secret:

The secret is the trassie (shrimp paste), this Eastern ingredient really lifts the taste of the mussels.

The tip:

We serve these mussels as a starter with some bread to dip in the juice. But us Belgians like mussels in many styles as a main course and then we typically prepare 1 kg mussels per person. Although the standard in Belgium is mussels with frites, these Thai style mussels come out much better with good bread like Turkish pide.

If you don’t like grating ginger, use a small blender to cut ginger, chili, etc.