Thursday, November 12, 2009

Moroccan Lamb Tagine With Pomegranate and Cherries

The rain was pelting down and the 30mph wind kept my umbrella turned inside out. The walk of a few blocks to Boston's, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum left us soaked. Coming inside we heaved a big "Ah-h!" as we shook off the wet chill. My next door neighbor, Kate and I were looking forward to our 1:00 lunch reservation in the museum's restaurant before we walked around this little gem of a museum. Our table overlooked the outside courtyard where the fall leaves swirled in the wind and rain. The waitress brought menus and one of the choices, Lamb Tagine with couscous, seemed so warming and appealing. That it was...and memorable. Kate and I finished our lunch and started our walk around the museum. Since the largest art theft in history happened here in 1990, the museum is under constant watch. Picture taking is strictly forbidden, so I have no photos to share of this opulent collection....except....I did take one of a plaque in the bathroom when no one was looking!!Translated: Think much, Speak little, Write nothing. This plaque with the French Provençal saying is from the Stewart collection and is now proudly displayed while you wash your hands!

After taking in 3 floors of magnificent paintings, tapestries, furniture and artifacts, we braved the storm again to head back home before rush hour traffic started. Kate drove and since her nickname is "the human GPS", I had no worries! When we arrived back home, I found a case of pomegranate juice on my steps that the generous folks at POM Wonderful sent to me. It was like a friendly face at the door. Pomegranate juice is a favorite with my family. The sweet and tart flavor and health benefits just make us happy. And those shapely bottles from POM are so cute!
H-m-m-m....Lamb Tagine for lunch...pomegranate juice at my door....I must figure out a recipe with pomegranate juice and Lamb Tagine. I googled, I experimented and....voila! This recipe came out so well that I just couldn't put my tasting spoon down. The balanced combination of sweet, savory, spicy and hot was addicting. The list of spices is long, but many are a staple in the kitchen. This is a wonderful dish to prepare ahead to be ready when guests arrive or for a robust dinner by the fire. I didn't have the tagine pot to make it in, but Kate did. She has a beautiful hand painted pot that she loaned to me. Really all you need though, is a heavy pot with a tight fitting lid. And....a good hearty appetite!

Lamb Tagine with Pomegranate and Cherries

2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon oil
1 pound (meaty) lamb shank
3/4 pound lamb stew meat
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon grated garlic

1 tablespoon grated ginger
3 tablespoons sun dried tomatoes (packed in oil), cut into slivers
1/2 cup dried cherries (unsweetened)
3 fresh figs, cut in half
1 1/2 cup pomegranate juice, (I used Pom Wonderful)
1 cup chicken broth
a few sprigs of fresh mint, snipped for garnish

Combine the paprika, cumin, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, cayenne pepper, and lemon zest in a large zip lock bag and shake. Add the lamb, shake the bag to coat it with the spices and marinate in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours. In a large heavy pot with a tight fitting lid, heat the oil over medium high heat and brown the lamb. Lower heat to medium and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Stir and continue cooking until the onion is translucent. Stir in the sun dried tomatoes, cherries, and figs. Add the pomegranate juice and chicken broth, while gently stirring. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 1/2-2 hours until the lamb is tender and falling off of the bone. If the sauce needs thickening, simmer with the cover off until slightly reduced. Remove the meat from the lamb shank and return to pot.

Serve with couscous and garnish with snipped mint.
Serves 4.
My friend Lisa Magnuson of the Providence Wine Observer offered suggestions for a complementary wine. Her first thoughts were, "a ripe cherry Pinot Noir v. a rustic one. A big jammy Shiraz might work too, but it may over power it. Carmenere has softer tannins like a Merlot." I had a Pinot Noir with it and loved it.

Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Pomegranate and Cherries recipe (pdf)

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