Lamb Tagine with Pumpkin, Golden Raisins, and Chickpeas

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Traditional French cooking teaches that a classic braise begins by searing the meat, deglazing with wine or stock, scraping up the fond, and then covering with liquid. Contrast this to the Moroccan cooking technique of slowly cooking meat in stock or water with aromatics and spices. I use butternut squash in this recipe, but you can use any type of winter squash. You can make the tagine hours ahead; let the tagine cool to room temperature, so that the flavorful liquid can soak into the meat. The result is a velvety succulent stew. Serve with spiced couscous.

Yield: 10-12 servings

Course:
Cuisine:

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs. lamb shoulder cut into 1-inch cubes, free of fat
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 good pinch saffron ground in spice grinder
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 1/2 lbs. butternut squash peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 10 cups chicken stock or low-sodium good quality, store-bought chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 cups medium diced yellow onions (about 3 onions)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic cloves (about 3 cloves)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts for garnish
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Directions

  1. To marinate the lamb, combine ginger, curry powder, black pepper, coriander, cumin seed, cardamom , saffron, cinnamon stick, and salt in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, massage half of the spice mixture into the lamb cubes, making sure that each cube is covered with the spice mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate lamb in the refrigerator for approximately 30 minutes. Set remaining spice mixture aside.
  2. Meanwhile, roast butternut squash by preheating oven to 400˚. Place butternut squash on baking sheet and roast for approximately 20 minutes, or until squash can be pierced easily with a fork. Rotate the baking sheet and stir the squash occasionally during roasting.
  3. To cook the lamb, in a large heavy saucepot, cover the lamb with the chicken stock and bring the braising liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until lamb is tender, approximately 2-3 hours. Stir occasionally.
  4. To finish the stew, melt the butter in another large saucepot. When the butter has melted, add the onions and sauté until translucent, approximately 6-8 minutes. Add the remaining spice mixture, tomato paste, and garlic. Sauté for about 3-5 minutes on low heat. Next add the golden raisins, garbanzo beans, and honey. Sauté for another minute to combine. Set aside. Add the cooked lamb to the onion mixture. Add approximately 8 cups of the lamb braising liquid to the lamb and onion mixture and the add cooked squash. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the mixture is a stew-like consistency. Add additional braising liquid if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside and serve warm. Or, if making ahead, let cool, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Right before serving, garnish with roasted chopped peanuts and freshly chopped cilantro.
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