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El Lahm el M'qali

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 March 2013 at 19:39
Mark, did you season or "cure" the tajine yet? that usually takes a day or so (soak overnight; wipe down unglased parts with olive oil and heat for a couple of hours in the oven at 300 degrees, then cool down naturally) and must be done before it is used.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MarkR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 March 2013 at 19:45
It was cured yesterday according to the instructions from the Moroccan shop owner at
http://treasuresofmorocco.com/
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MarkR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 March 2013 at 20:02
The dish is most excellent! I am enjoying it very much!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 March 2013 at 20:39
Aye, Mark - mine was very good too!
 
I served my meal with coucous made from the cooking liquids, topped with a little Greek yogurt. Although Joe forgot to add the olives when he made the dish, this was no big deal; I simply added a few sliced olives on top of my serving, and all was good! He also tossed too much olive oil in, not realising that most of it was intended by the recipe for browning the meat - no worries.
 
I think my favourite part was the way the lemon worked with the meat pieces that had been near the edge to the tajine; those pieces had "roasted" a little, and made very good play with the lemon. I think next time, I'll cook the dish longer, in order to get even more of that caramelised effect.
 
I can't get over how wonderful this smelled while cooking; even though my olfatory equipment is faulty today due to my illness, it was nevertheless amazing! A most excellent dish that will be enjoyed again in the future. I've tried chicken tajine and this tajine made from venison; what's next? Perhaps fish....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 March 2013 at 05:31
Mark, the primary problem with the recipe and directions as printed is the amount of water. Keep in mind it was written at a time when most Americans had never even heard of, let alone owned, a tajine. Because it was designed to cook in a Dutch oven or casserole, it uses far more water than would be true with a tajine.
 
The final result, tastewise, should be pretty close to any authentic tajine. Worst case is that you'll have more broth than required---which is no big deal.
 
The FotW books were not unique to this. Several books on African cooking that are more or less contemporanious with them do the same thing.
 
When you start using your tajine you can control the liquid simply enough. Put the other ingredients in, then add the liquid to just below the ledge that supports the top cone. At most that will only be a cup to a cup and a half of liquid.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 March 2013 at 07:55
Brook and Mark,
 
I do not employ 100% water; it is much tastier with either 100% home made stock broth or 50% broth and 50% water ... If using lamb; I would use lamb, veal or chicken broth ...
 
The slow low temperature of the oven, shall also produce pan juices inside the tagine ... and thus, be absolutely heavenly.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 March 2013 at 08:38
Personally I also use stock, Margi.
 
But both Mark and Ron were trying to make the recipes exactly as it was printed in the book. That's a thing to keep in mind; what is the cook's purpose. In this case, neither were looking for variations on the theme. Just the opposite, in fact.
 
Changing the amount of water doesn't change the recipe. It merely recognizes that there is a mechanical difference between braising in a Dutch oven and braising in a tajine. Being new to this type of cookery, it's important that they understand the difference.
 
Later on they can play with the recipe if they want.
 
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 March 2013 at 08:44
Brook,
 
I am pleased to hear, that you also employ home made stock broth ...
 
Yes, I understand your explanation ...
 
Here is a good question: Do you employ chicken, lamb or veal broth with the Lamb Tagine ?
 
I usually have used lamb; for chicken tagine, I use chicken broth homemade and for fish; I like shellfish broth depending on the fish being used or a fresh cod head broth ...
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 March 2013 at 09:06
Unfortunately, Margi, I never have enough bones for lamb stock. So I use either venison stock or a rich chicken stock for lamb.
 
Veal? Forget it. Veal, around here, requires a second mortgage. Ain't gonna happen'.
 
For a fish tajine I use a light seafood stock made with shrimp shells.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 March 2013 at 10:31
My objective with this was to prepare it as closely as I could to how it would be prepared in a typical Moroccan home. I considered using broth or stock (beef) and also pre-searing the meat, but ultimately decided that your average everyday housewife in Fez or Marrakech would not do this, relying on the meat and onions to provide a broth and the roasting effect of the tajine to provide browning. I think that if I would have used even less water, I might have gotten more of the sizzling, roasting effect mentioned above, with some deeper flavours that would probably have been achieved in an "honest" way that would have been in line with my "peasant cooking" point of view.
 
Nevertheless, I must say that the combination was very good - worth a try for sure. A person can, if they choose, take it up a notch or two by searing the meat and onions before cooking the tajine - or using some stock rather than water, but I believe that it dilutes some of the experience as far as "traveling the world through your kitchen......" My goal was to make something that would be plausible and recognisable in a typical Moroccan household, rather than a fine dining establishment, and I believe I achieved this.
 
My treatment of the couscous was another matter - it simply seemed to make sense to dump the couscous in to soak up the cooking liquids and take on the flavours, turning it into a "one-pot meal," so to speak; but as far as I know this isn't done in North Africa, where I believe it is prepared and served separately.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MarkR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 March 2013 at 14:16
Quote Nevertheless, I must say that the combination was very good - worth a try for sure. A person can, if they choose, take it up a notch or two by searing the meat and onions before cooking the tajine - or using some stock rather than water, but I believe that it dilutes some of the experience as far as "traveling the world through your kitchen......" My goal was to make something that would be plausible and recognizable in a typical Moroccan household, rather than a fine dining establishment, and I believe I achieved this.


I agree and this was my goal also. And the dish is excellent! But a few thoughts.

1. The lamb, I have not worked with lamb before the sausage I made. I was struck by the similarity to venison. Both in color and texture, well taste too! Since I have no venison, lamb may be my substitute as I now have a reasonably priced source.

2. The "authenticity" of the recipe(s). In the 60s & 70's not many average American households had a Tajine in them. So the recipes had to be converted to something people were likely to have.

3. Spicing, as good as these dishes were/are, I could not help but think something was missing - perhaps cumin, paprika and a bit of cayenne? And I would bet there are things left out of the recipe. I think there is a reason for that. At the time these books were published, 60s & 70s, the culinary tastes and skills of the masses (American) was world class boring! Meat and taters with salt, pepper and butter! I think they (the authors) had to "tone them down" to keep them in the range of what people would eat!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 March 2013 at 15:24
Paprika, perhaps Mark. But not cayenne. Not in a lamb tajine.
 
The most likely missing ingredients are black pepper and cinnamon. I just checked all my references, and those two are common to all lamb tajines. I can't understand why they were missing in the original; neither was rare or unusual even in the '60s.
 
Ironically, none of my references have this particular combination. Olives and lemons are more usually used with poultry. Figs, dates, quince, and apricots are more commonly found paired with lamb.
 
Cumin and coriander, both common to Moroccan cuisine, is more usually found in poultry tajines.
 
Interestingly, kicking things up, in terms of spice, is much more common with fish and seafood tajines, many of which include harissa or red chilies.
 
All that aside, if you make this again, and want more depth of flavor, try dusting the pieces of meat with ras el hanout before cooking. That will deepen the flavors, all of which are Moroccan, without overpowering the lamb with heat.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 March 2013 at 16:47
Some additional thoughts:

Perhaps it was presented merely as a generic tajine, rather than a locally collected recipe.

Neither cinnamon nor black pepper were considered particularly exotic in those days. Heck, my mother used them, and she was one of the most non-adventurous cooks I’ve ever known.

We need to look at the timing of, and reasons for, the Foods of the World series. They weren’t published to create a new awareness among American cooks. Their purpose was to capitalize on, and cater to, that already emerging culinary sophistication.

The ‘60s and ‘70s were an exciting time for American cooks. Julia Child had revolutionized television cooking shows; Craig Claibourne was reigning as the king of food journalists - and his influences on that field have yet to be fully appreciated. James Beard was at his peak. Americans were discovering and exploring all sorts of exciting world cuisines. And snapping up cookbooks that purported to take them on those global culinary adventures.

Into that milieu steps Time/Life with a series of books that was perfect for the times. “Why be satisfied with a few recipes from a foreign land,” the books proclaimed, “when you can have, in a collector’s edition, the cuisine of an entire country at your fingertips.” A very telling message. But it didn’t begin to slow the wave of books and magazine articles and newspaper stories.

Here’s an example. A Quintet of Cuisines, from which this recipe comes, was published in 1970. By 1973, Paula Wolfert’s seminal CousCous and Other Good Food From Morocco had taken the American cooking world by storm. It was an instant hit

I can’t believe that American taste buds catapulted from no black pepper & cinnamon, to things like 30-ingredient ras el hanouts, in just three years.

Certainly the FotW series was designed to have as broad a reach as possible. And many times flavors were toned down to make them more appealing to a wider range of people. I just don’t think that was the case with this recipe. Frankly, I believe it was just sloppy reporting on Field’s part.

Be that as it may, you did, indeed, pick up on the fact that something was missing from the tajine you made. Cinnamon and black pepper are the ingredients that you’re not tasting, for whatever reason they were left out of the recipe. Try adding them in, next time, and see what happens. I would start with a large stick of cinnamon, broken in three or four pieces, and about a teaspoon of freshly ground pepper. Then adjust from there.
But we hae meat and we can eat
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 March 2013 at 03:09

Mark, Brook and Tas,

 
Here are the general Ras El Hanout Moroccan Spices employed ( from one of the Moroccan Markets I frequent ):
 
Firstly, Ras El Hanout signifies Top Shelf or Top of the Shop, as only the best spices are employed in this dry spice blend ...
 
1) CAYENNE
2) SMOKED PAPRIKA ( LA VERA PIMENTÓN DULCE ) SWEET
3) SMOKED PAPRIKA ( LA VERA PIMENTÓN PICANTE ) PIQUANT ( note: this is also grown and cultivated in Morocco in Spanish Companies and indicated Made In Morocco )
4) SAFFRON THREADS
5) CUMIN
6) CORIANDER SEEDS
7) GINGER
8) NUTMEG
9) ALL SPICE
10) BLACK PEPPER FRESHLY GROUND
11) NUTMEG
12) TUMERIC
13) CARDAMOM SEEDS
14) FENNEL SEEDS
15) CILANTRO FRESH HERB
16) ORANGE OR LEMON ZEST
17) ROSE & OTHER FLORAL BUDS DRY
 
 
I enquired, and there is No Set Standard; however, these 17 are the base; though a Moroccan merchant may place up to 50 varieites of dry spices to create this blend; each restaurant, bazaar and family having their exotic spice recipe ... That is why the name of this spice blend is called Top Shelf in English ...
 
Kind regards.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 March 2013 at 05:45
For a more in-depth look at these flavors, check out our discussion of Moroccan flavors here: http://www.foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/basic-moroccan-flavorings_topic1853_page1.html
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 March 2013 at 07:13
Also, see my Lamb and Date Tagine from Morocco ... The Moroccans and the Mid Easterners, have a great penchant for combining dried or fresh fruit and edible flowers with their meats ... It is very common in Granada, Andalusia in Spain as well; employing: pomegrante seeds, apricots dried or fresh, fresh figs, dried figs, prunes, raisins, and oranges dried and / or fresh ... Amongst other dry or fresh fruit ...

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 March 2013 at 08:10
Here are the photos from when I made this with venison - it was very good!
 
Preparation was easy as could be - we jsut tossed all the ingredinets together in the tajine and cooked it, starting with a cold oven that we gradually heated to 300 degrees, then to 325. As far as I can tell, it came out in very traditional fashion, without any "Americanised" modifications.
 
 
The only real execution error here is that we forgot to cook it with the olives (we added them when it was served); also, as you can see, there might have been a little too much olive oil.
 
I don't know how "correct" it is to do this, but I've found that couscous is a great way to soak up the cooking liquids:
 
 
In addition to what was in the tajine, I added another cup or so of boiling water so that the couscous could fluff up nicely.
 
This tajine was very, very good; the flavours and spices came together very well, with the onions especially lending a fabulous aroma as they cooked in the meat juices. The msir added a nice citrus accent while the venison itself was savory, full of flavour and tender as could be.
 
 
I'll definitely make this again, taking a little more care to get the olives in, of course; I will also see about adding a few other basic Moroccan flavourings - garlic, cinnamon, perhaps some ras el hanout... and definitely some smoked paprika.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 March 2013 at 08:36
Looks great, Ron.
 
No, it wouldn't be "correct" to mix the couscous into the tajine. But so what? If that's how you wanted to serve it, that's the way it should be.
 
If you're concerned about authenticity, tajines and cous cous are separate types of dishes, made differently. Regular cous cous (unlike the quick-cooking kind we find in the States) requires several washings and rubbings, and is then cooking in a specialized vessel called a couscouserie. Very often a stew of some sort provides the steam that cooks the grain, and they get mixed after the fact.
 
In other words, the end result is pretty close to what you wound up with. They would likely call your dish a cous cous, however, rather than a tajine.
 
Ain't semantics grand! Confused
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 March 2013 at 08:53
I agree, Brook - technically, this was probably more of a couscous than a tajine, but like you say, the end result isn't too much different. I didn't have any good bread to sop up all that wonderful-looking broth, so this seemed a great way to put it to work!
 
Come to think of it, I'll bet that this dish would pair perfectly with some old-style barley bread ~ Smile
 
As mentioned in one of my posts above, I think next time I'll use a little less water/stock/broth. With this preparation, I added enough to come halfway up the ingredinets, but of course they made their own liquid, which added more. Next time, I'll see about adding about half as mcuh as I did, and note the results. I'll also play with some spices and herbs, and see what happens....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 March 2013 at 08:58
Sounds like a plan.
 
One thing: If you're starting with a cold oven there's no need to gradually increase the temp. Just set it to the final figure you want. The tajine will heat slowly with no danger of cracking.
 
Only time there's a possibility of harm is if you preheat the oven, then put the cold tajine into it.
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