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Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Prunes, Apricots and Golden Vegetables

A tagine is the name given to both the recipe and the dish in which it is cooked. A heavy casserole works fine in American kitchens. The meat and all of the vegetables should be cut to about the same size, roughly 3/4-inch cubes. The stew will be faintly sweet, but an extra drizzle of honey is a wonderful touch at serving time. Complement the dish with couscous and a salad of bitter greens, such as Belgian endive and frissee.

1 1/2 pounds lamb, cut into cubes (trimmed from about 2 pounds of lamb shoulder chops)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 3/4 cups water
1 large pinch saffron threads, crumbled
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 large carrots, cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup pitted prunes, cut in half
1/2 cup dried apricots, (preferably Turkish), cut in half
1 medium yellow squash, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 teaspoons honey, optional

Cut lamb from bones. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy casserole or dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. Cook the meat in two batches until brown on all sides, transferring the meat to a dish when browned. Add remaining oil to the pan and brown the onions. Return the meat to the pan. Stir in water, saffron, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer mixture, covered, stirring occasionally, until lamb is tender, about 1 hour.

Add carrots and sweet potato to the pot, then simmer, covered, until vegetables are barely tender, about 10 minutes. Add ginger, cinnamon, prunes, apricots and squash, them simmer, covered, until vegetables and fruits are tender, about 5 to 10 minutes longer.

Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with honey, mix and quietly simmer an additional 5 minutes. Pass honey at the table if anyone cares to add a touch more sweetness. Serve with couscous. Serves 4 to 6.

"1,000 Jewish Recipes" by Faye Levy (IDG Books).

Thursday, February 22, 2001

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