Recipe by French Terrine
The flavors in this modified Saveur recipe are very complex and spicy. Being unfamiliar with quince, fruit that cannot be eaten unless cooked seems unusual. Quince are ripe when yellow in color and are usually available during Fall. Adding an exotic component to the complexity of this dish, nothing can substitute for its tartness and sweetness. Now the poor little misunderstood okra often gets beat up by those who have never had it prepared correctly. Related to cotton, hollyhock, and hibiscus, okra grows in warm climates. Look for young pods under 4 inches long, which should yield tender results when gently simmered a few minutes. Keep in mind that a food processor can speed up the prep work. Although meat is not traditionally browned in making a tajine, I do anyway. Served with couscous and a garnish of preserved lemon on the side, you just might imagine eating outside under a partially open tent, looking out on the desert, all shimmering and silver beneath the starlit Moroccan sky.
- 2 lbs lamb, trimmed of fat, cut into 2 inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1⁄2 teaspoon hot paprika
- 3 red onions, one grated, 2 finely chopped
- 18 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
- 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 pinch saffron thread
- 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can tomatoes
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 1 tablespoon cumin seed
- 3 large quinces
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1⁄4 lbs okra, tops pared
- 1 cup couscous
Directions See How It's Made
- Using the grating disc in food processor, grate one onion and set aside.
- Using chopping blade in food processor, mince the garlic and set aside. Mince jalapeno, then chop the two remaining onions and set aside. (Do not combine with the minced garlic or grated onion, since ingredients are added to the simmering tajine at different times.) Chop cilantro and parsley, then set aside.
- Heat olive oil in bottom of tagine or dutch oven with a tightly fitting lid. Brown lamb, adding salt and pepper to taste. Add grated onion, saffron, ginger, paprika, cilantro, parsley and garlic and stir with the browned lamb. Add the can of tomatoes and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile toast cumin seed in a small skillet until fragrant, just a few minutes. Allow to cool, then grind in spice grinder. The Saveur recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin, but you might want to use all that you ground. Or save the rest for another use.
- After lamb has been simmering for 45 minutes, add chopped onions, jalapeño, and 1/2 teaspoon (or more if you want) of toasted ground cumin, then simmer 45 minutes more.
- Meanwhile poach the quince. Cut each quince into 6 slices, leaving skin on and removing core and seeds. Using a large skillet, poach the quince in simmering salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain off almost all of the poaching water, reserving about 2--3 tablespoons in the skillet. Add 2 tablespoons of butter, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and the cinnamon, making a syrup. Cook fleshy side down until glazed, about 20 minutes. Turn over and brown the skin side. Keep warm to serve with the lamb.
- Simmer okra in a small amount of water until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and add to tajine. (The Saveur recipe just adds the okra to the tajine after it has simmered for the 90 minutes. But when I did this before, I simply could not get my okra tender within a few minutes. Once the okra had finally cooked sufficiently, it seemed that some of the other ingredients, like the garlic and cumin, had overcooked, resulting in a bitter flavor. So to get the flavor right, I cook the okra separately).
- To prepare couscous, add 1 cup of boiling water to 1 cup of couscous. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Then fluff with a fork.
- To plate, serve tajine over the couscous and garnish with the quince. If you have any preserved lemon, add a little to the plate with a few sprigs of cilantro.