I just read an article about why we are still in sub zero temperatures. Apparently there is a big ridge of high pressure that has created a hot and dry winter in California. The culprit seems to be much warmer than usual water temperatures in the North Pacific and Gulf of Alaska keeping the jet stream stagnant. So, I am not ready to haul out my Spring recipes yet. Thus said, Lamb Tagine with Apricots is a scrumptious dish that I can never serve often enough!
First stage: The beginning, healing diet indicated with an “H”
Second stage: A maintenance diet when the inflammation is gone and you are moving into a gluten and dairy free diet indicated by an “M”
Third stage: Paleo indicated by a “P”
Lamb Tagine with Apricots
H M P
A tagine is a traditional Moroccan terra cotta covered pot that creates a moist and controlled cooking environment and produces a succulent dish. Even though I am tempted to buy one and add it to my kitchen arsenal, one of the points of this blog is to create dishes at home within a budget. Let’s just use a dutch oven!
1 3/4 lbs. of lamb shoulder steaks
1 onion, cut in 8ths
4 good sized bruised cloves of garlic
1 c. celery root (that knobby, medieval looking veg, not the stalks!)
1 c. of 1″ cut carrots
1 c. dried apricots, organic, not sulphured
1 c. dry red wine
1 1/2 c. of rich chicken broth
1/4 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
Peel of one lemon
3 fresh sage leaves, minced
Pinch of cloves
1-2 bay leaves
EV olive oil- I like a fruity Spanish for this but really, any will do!
1 T. tomato paste (even though my GERD was severe, I was never bothered by this amount in a dish-it gives depth)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Salt and pepper the lamb shoulders. In a large dutch oven, heat 1 good tablespoon of EEVO, them brown the lamb. Set lamb aside. If the lamb was fatty, drain off the fat. I usually have fairly lean cuts with the shoulder.
Access your inner Hobbit and peel the troll-like celery root. It is definitely an under-used veg, nutty in flavor with a wonderfully dense texture. Dice in large 1/2″ pieces. Heat 1 T. of EEVO and sauté the onions slowly for about 5″. I always salt onions as they begin to sauté in order to develop their flavor as they cook. Add the bruised garlic cloves and sauté about 1″. Add the wine, bring to a strong simmer and begin to scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in 1 T. of tomato paste and 1 T. of honey, add the lemon and all of the herbs and spices. Put the lamb back into the pot, add the veggies and cover with the chicken broth. If you add the apricots now, they stew and almost disintegrate. If you want firmer apricots, wait until the next step. I like both ways!
Bring to a boil, cover and put in the oven for one hour. At this point, you could add the apricots of you didn’t earlier. Now remove the cover and cook for another 45″. Remove lemon peel and cinnamon sticks.
I love this dish! It is terrifically satisfying on an Arctic night. And I will be honest with you about how forgiving this dish is. If you don’t have sage, don’t use it. If you only have port, use that. I think the most important components of this dish besides the lamb and veggies are the cinnamon, onions, garlic, tomato paste and whatever wine. Celery root is a great replacement for potatoes or grains, so eat hearty and let’s set our sight on Spring! It’s just a matter of Time, right?