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Lamb Tagine with Golden Raisins

Updated February 23, 2016
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This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This is a French Moroccan–inspired stew in which nuggets of lamb, redolent of cinnamon, are cooked until the meat is so tender it practically melts in your mouth. The raisins, and the caramelized onion topping, add a touch of sweetness, which is cut by the subtle acidity of tomato and the bright taste of fresh cilantro, stirred in at the last minute. This is best served with plain fluffy couscous. If you have a small (1- or 2-quart) slow cooker in addition to a larger one, you can cook the onion topping in the small cooker instead of in a skillet: When you start to cook the lamb mixture in the larger cooker, place the butter and onion slices in the small one, sprinkle with the cumin, salt, and pepper, and cook on the low setting for 5 to 6 hours.

4-quart slow cooker

 If the fresh tomato isn’t top quality, ripe and red, use a little tomato paste to enhance the flavor of the tagine: Stir it into the water when you load up the slow cooker.

Serves4

Cooking Methodslow cooking

CostModerate

Moderate

Total Timehalf-day

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, lactose-free, low carb, peanut free, tree nut free

Equipmentcrock pot

Mealdinner

Taste and Texturefruity, herby, meaty, savory, spiced

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds lamb stew meat (from the shoulder or leg)
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon good-quality ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional; see Note)
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 sweet onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • ¾ cup golden raisins
  • 2 cups instant couscous, cooked in lightly salted water and fluffed with a fork

Instructions

Place the lamb in a 4-quart slow cooker and add the garlic, tomatoes, cinnamon, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, ½ cup water, and the tomato paste, if using.

Keeping the cilantro in a bunch, cut off the stems and tie them together with kitchen string; set the leaves aside. Nestle the bundle of stems into the ingredients in the slow cooker. Cook on the low setting for 5 to 6 hours, or until the lamb is very tender, then remove and discard the cilantro stems.

Meanwhile, put the butter, onions, and cumin in a medium skillet or sauté pan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very soft and deep golden brown, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then remove from the heat.

Twenty minutes before the end of the cooking time for the lamb, remove the lid and skim off as much of the clear fat from the surface of the stew as possible.

Reserving a few sprigs for garnish, roughly chop the cilantro leaves and stir them, along with the raisins, into the lamb; continue to cook, uncovered on the high setting, for 20 minutes.

Taste and season with salt and pepper as necessary. Spoon the couscous onto a serving platter or individual plates and top with the lamb and the caramelized onion and reserved cilantro sprigs.

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This recipe resulted in a delicious dinner this evening. Thank you!

This tagine was full of favour and was a great time saver using the slow cooker. A dish the whole family can eat.

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