Beef Tagine with Prunes

Beef Tagine

Tagines are one of Morocco’s most famous dishes, and this is maybe the most famous tagine of them all. We tend to think of them in those lovely pots with the conical lids. If you believe the blurb, that’s supposed to help the condensation drip back from the sides and not straight back into the pot. However, I’ve read that the Moroccans cook tagines in more normal pots and transfer to the elaborate pots for serving.

Lovely rich flavours and texture combine to give a memorable meal, particularly suited to the colder months. In Ireland, that means we can eat it all year around! It’s a real cinch to make: the very basic preparation is followed by a couple of hours simmering gently on the stove top or in a low oven.

Summary

Makes: 6 portions
Preparation: 20 mins
Cooking: 2 hours

Ingredients

1kg
40g
3tbsp
1tbsp
3tbsp
2tsp
1tsp
1tsp
½tsp
1tsp
500g
2tbsp
.
.
.
1
Stewing beef cut into good-size chunks
Butter (pus good splash of olive oil)
Coriander leaves (roughly chopped)
Mint leaves (roughly chopped)
Minced onion
Ground cinnamon
Ground ginger
Ground coriander
Black pepper
Saffron strands (infused for 20mins in a little hot water)
Ready to eat stoned prunes
Clear runny honey
Salt and black pepper
Toasted almonds and chopped coriander to garnish
.
Large flameproof casserole dish with lid

Method

Trim any excess fat from the meat. You can use a cheese grater for the onions, or just whizz them. You’ll probably need two medium onions to get the amound needed. Place the casserole pot on a medium-high heat. Add the butter and a splash of oil to stop the butter burning. When the butter is foaming, add the black pepper, cinnamon, ginger and coriander and stir around a bit. Add the onion, coriander and mint leaves and stir well. Leave for 30 seconds or so. Add the meat and stir to make sure it is well-coated with the onions and spices. Add enough cold water to just cover the meat. Stir in the saffron and the infusion liquid. Next, add about two-thirds of the prunes. Season with a little salt. You many need some more water, the ingredients should just be covered. Bring the pot to the boil and then reduce to a really low simmer and place the lid on the pot.

After about one and half hours the meat should be pretty tender and the prunes almost dissolved, which will thicken the dish. You can stir gently to encourage the prunes to break up but be careful that you don’t disturb the meat. At this stage add the honey and the remaining prunes. Season with salt and pepper. You might need more than you think, in order to balance the honey. Replace the lid and leave for another half an hour or so.

When the dish is ready, transfer to a large warmed serving bowl and garnish with toasted almond flakes and some chopped coriander. Enjoy with some cous cous, good white bread or plain boiled potatoes.

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