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Wolfert

Moroccan Tagine Cooking

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You are lucky that you can control the heat on your stove and not have to use a heat diffuser.

Having a gas stove helps with that. When I was there we did a lot of camping in the desert and much of the cooking was done with a tagine over a portable gas burner. They also baked bread in the sand, but that's another story altogether! I have to say that my tagine is not as polished as the one in the picture. It's a bit rougher but I like its character.

Please tell us some of the dishes you have made in it.

I have two tagine recipes that I learned from a cook in Morocco. She was very sweet, let me follow her into the kitchen and write everything down :biggrin: This was in Zagora, so obviously the cooking would vary throughout the country.

Chicken Tagine

She also made this Tagine Kefta, which is simply meatballs in a tomato sauce. That wasn't a dish from Zagora though. Our guide said he'd only ever had it in Tata (still in the south but on the other side of the desert from Zagora) and he asked Naima, the chef, to help him recreate it. Although not traditional, I love making these meatballs to go over spaghetti! Fusion cooking :rolleyes:

You also often got Beef and Prune Tagines in Morocco. This was my husband's favourite. I didn't try and recreate the recipe until we came home though. The original recipe (from BBC Good Food) called for I think 3-4 times the amount of beef but I thought that was excessive and we don't eat much meat so I cut it way back. Meat lovers will want to add more.

I use my tagine to make curries a lot too or any time I want to slow cook tough cuts of meat.

Anyone else have good tagine recipes to share?

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I finished cooking, and nearly finished eating (there aren't many leftovers!) Wolfert's Moroccan Lamb Tagine Smothered with Lemon and Olives last night in my Egyptian clay pot. That one's a keeper.

First, some notes on the pot curing process: my clay pots came from Egypt, and I followed the curing process I was taught in Luxor despite a powerful temptation to try Paula's olive oil and ash treatment. (I guess I'll have to buy a tagine for that one!) I rinsed and scrubbed the pot in water to get rid of loose clay, let it dry thoroughly, then rubbed it inside and out with molasses. Then I set it upside down on a baking sheet (this one's usually a drip pan so I didn't bother with foil) and baked it in the oven at 350F for, oh, several hours. I don't remember the timing. It's done when the molasses has beaded up and hardened. The difference in before and after is amazing: before curing, the pots are brick red and smell like clay (think garden pots). Afterward the pot is brown, hard, and doesn't have that smell any more. Here are some "before" and "after" pictures, with an uncured small bowl compared to the larger cooking bowl I used. Sorry about the less-than-optimal lighting!

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Here's the mix coming to the boil atop the stove. I have an electric coil stove, so I put the pot on a flame-tamer and raised the heat very, very gradually.

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After it came to the boil I lowered the heat and simmered with wet crumpled parchment paper on top of the food and a foil lid over that.

While that was cooking, I made some of Elie's pita bread, from his Introduction to Lebanese Cuisine at the eGCI. It's sure fun to watch those pitas puff.

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I misread the instructions and realized too late that I was supposed to have separated the meat and sauce and added the olives to the sauce on top of the stove while the meat was browning in the oven. I just left the foil and parchment off and let the sauce reduce in the oven. It may have mattered in the presentation, but it sure didn't matter to the taste. Here's the finished product:

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I tasted, and tasted, and then couldn't stop. I make lamb stew frequently, but I've never gotten this sort of tenderness. The bits of meat were melt-in-the-mouth tender, with an unctuous texture brand-new to me. The olives were as tender and tasty; I didn't know that cooking olives like this would change them so much. Wow. Wonderful stuff. Paula, if you want to update that recipe on your website, go right ahead, but don't you dare remove it! :laugh:

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I am just wondering about this heat control thing. What about if we try to recreate the way it is done with a bit of charcoal. I may have this all wrong but, if you fire up the old Weber (or other charcoal grill), make some coals and move a few under the tagine, could you control the heat level to what you want?

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Fif: you are absolutely right on: a tagine is cooked over charcoal in a brazier and the coals are stoked or smothered with sand to keep the temperature slow...

zi love the idea of wok rings for the electric stove. I hope someone will report back on that.

Nancy: Tuesday is my day to go out with a group of New Yorkers and drink hard alchohol in an outdoor cafe. It's the wine country and it really upsets the tourists.

We may all be in our late sixties, but we love the idea that the alcohol is preserving not only us but our sense of fun..

I purchased some molasses and will try your method on some claypots that I haven't cured yet. Your pots look really too wonderful not to try it out. Thanks for the tip..


Edited by Wolfert (log)

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Nancy: Tuesday is my day to go out with a group of New Yorkers and drink hard alchohol in an outdoor cafe. It's the wine country and it really upsets the tourists.

We may all be in our late sixties, but we love the idea that the alcohol is preserving not only us but our sense of fun..

:laugh::laugh: Well-preserved, indeed!

I don't suppose you've ever stuck a thermometer over the brazier coals, right at the pot base, to know what the target temperature is? Is the coal/brazier method basically looking to maintain the lowest simmer possible after the initial boil?

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Look on post #5 upthread. I will try cooking something in the tagine with coals this weekend. I have a raytek thermometer and will let you know.

I wouldn't be surprised if the ideal heat will turn out to be 275 F. Stay tuned.

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OK, you guys . . . DO NOT! I repeat . . . DO NOT give me an excuse to get another toy. :laugh: Those Rayteks have been calling my name. I am telling myself to give up on that and use my remote thermometer probe. Yes. That will work. I don't really need that Raytek. Nope. Don't need it. :hmmm:

Paula, I will bet 250 F in the tagine. Maybe less. My oven is correct and I get a slow simmer at 250 in LC, now confirmed in a clay pot. To barely simmer at all, I cut it back to 225 when braising so I can go shopping and not worry about it. But then, that technique doesn't have the cooling cone on top.

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Paula, I will bet 250 F in the tagine. Maybe less. My oven is correct and I get a slow simmer at 250 in LC, now confirmed in a clay pot. To barely simmer at all, I cut it back to 225 when braising so I can go shopping and not worry about it. But then, that technique doesn't have the cooling cone on top.

I'm glad you mentioned this. I was thinking of measuring the heat of the coalsat 275. You're absolutely right, I need to measure the temperature of the simmering liquid inside the tagine.

I'm curing some flower pot saucers right now to use as stands on the stove.

One is brushed with molasses thanks to Nancy's suggestion, and the other is with coals and oil. .

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I'm curing some flower pot saucers right now to use as stands on the stove.

One is brushed with molasses thanks to Nancy's suggestion, and the other is with coals and oil. .

I hope you'll post photos when you're done, along with your comments, so we can see what difference the curing makes. Hmm, I have a couple of uncured moussaka bowls sitting around. Maybe I'll try a comparison too.

Edited to remove a question already answered elsewhere, and to fix a formatting error.


Edited by Smithy (log)

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I have two tagine recipes that I learned from a cook in Morocco. She was very sweet, let me follow her into the kitchen and write everything down  :biggrin: This was in Zagora, so obviously the cooking would vary throughout the country.

Chicken Tagine

OK, I have a painfully dumb question. After becoming inspired by the previous couscous thread, I bought a Le Creuset tagine (although now that I've read this thread I wish I had held out for a crockery tagine, but I digress). I tried the Honeyed, spiced chicken tagine recipe that came with the pot. I lightly sautéed the onions & garlic & then added the chicken as instructed. I could not get the chicken to brown. It was delicious, but very white. The Chicken Tagine recipe Sackvill Girl posted sounds wonderful & I'd like to try it but it starts the same way as the first recipe I tried. Should I remove the onions after sautéing? How do I get the chicken to brown?

Sigh, I did warn you that this was going to be a painfully dumb question. :wink:

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I have two tagine recipes that I learned from a cook in Morocco. She was very sweet, let me follow her into the kitchen and write everything down  :biggrin: This was in Zagora, so obviously the cooking would vary throughout the country.

Chicken Tagine

OK, I have a painfully dumb question. After becoming inspired by the previous couscous thread, I bought a Le Creuset tagine (although now that I've read this thread I wish I had held out for a crockery tagine, but I digress). I tried the Honeyed, spiced chicken tagine recipe that came with the pot. I lightly sautéed the onions & garlic & then added the chicken as instructed. I could not get the chicken to brown. It was delicious, but very white. The Chicken Tagine recipe Sackvill Girl posted sounds wonderful & I'd like to try it but it starts the same way as the first recipe I tried. Should I remove the onions after sautéing? How do I get the chicken to brown?

Sigh, I did warn you that this was going to be a painfully dumb question. :wink:

Ha, that isn't a painfully dumb question! You should see the one I'm about to post! :wink:

I have some guesses and questions, and I'm sure the resident experts will chime in soon. First, I wonder whether the Le Creuset is changing the browning from what you're used to. Do you have other LC pieces? Other posters have noted that it doesn't brown as easily - although I have to say I haven't noticed that problem with my stuff. Second idea: was there too much liquid in the pan from the onions? Maybe you needed to let the onion juice boil off a bit before adding the chicken. My third idea goes to what Paula's been teaching here for other meats: brown the chicken at the end of the cooking, under the broiler. You might have to separate the chicken from the rest of the sauce for that step. That isn't the sequence in the recipe noted above, but it might work for you.

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Sigh, I did warn you that this was going to be a painfully dumb question. :wink:


Edited by Wolfert (log)

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OK, here goes my dumb question. I'm wondering how the tagine would work with lean cuts of meat. Specifically, I have some deer meat that's quite flavorful but quite lean, and tends to dry out easily. I'm still trying to find ways to cook it without drying it out. Stew has worked pretty well. Would braising in the tagine work, or does the meat need more fat for that?

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If you are thinking of cooking "moroccan," then you should switch to grilling, steaming or roasting lean meat.

Smithy, the house smells wonderful due to the browning molasses.

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Smithy & Miss Wolfert, thank you for the answers.

Smithy, I believe the onions were still a bit liquidy when I added the chicken, so it must have steamed rather than browned.

Miss Wolfert, If unbrowned meat is more traditional all the better. What threw me off was that the recipe instructs one to brown each side of the chicken breast. If the end result is a little too pale for us I will try the end of cooking under the broiler method.

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The Chicken Tagine recipe Sackvill Girl posted sounds wonderful & I'd like to try it but it starts the same way as the first recipe I tried.  Should I remove the onions after sautéing?  How do I get the chicken to brown? 

Sigh, I did warn you that this was going to be a painfully dumb question.  :wink:

I'm sorry I can't help you. I have never had a problem getting my chicken to brown. Hmmmmmm.... I can only assume it has something to do with the Le Creuset tagine and the way it's made.

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The Chicken Tagine recipe Sackvill Girl posted sounds wonderful & I'd like to try it but it starts the same way as the first recipe I tried.   Should I remove the onions after sautéing?  How do I get the chicken to brown? 

I'm sorry I can't help you. I have never had a problem getting my chicken to brown. Hmmmmmm.... I can only assume it has something to do with the Le Creuset tagine and the way it's made.

I don't mean to belabor this, but do you drop the chicken breasts in on top of the onions or do you remove the onions & add them back later?

I agree that the Le Creuset may not have been the right tagine to buy, but I've not had any problems browning chicken in their dutch oven.

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Paula, just to divert this thread a bit. Can you elaborate on how tagine is used in cooking fish and vegetables? For a fish tagine, do you slow cook it, or is it a much faster process than say lam or chicken? do you create a stew first then put the fish in? Can the whole thing be made on a gas stove top or does it have to go in the oven? I don't own a tagine right now, but this thread is really inspiring me to get one.

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I  don't mean to belabor this, but do you drop the chicken breasts in on top of the onions or do you remove the onions & add them back later?

I don't remove the onions. I might push them to one side a little bit to make room for the chicken.

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A couple of people are coming for dinner on Tuesday and I think that I shall make tagine. I have a 14th C. Arabic recipe for Mrouzia (thanks to Charles Perry's translations) and are interested in producing this.

I also have a digital probe and a tagine from Meknes, so I will take some measurements and photos etc. I am actually quite interested to see the temperature in this cooking vessel, pity I don't have pressure probe though.

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undefinedPaula, just to divert this thread a bit. Can you elaborate on how tagine is used in cooking fish and vegetables? For a fish tagine, do you slow cook it, or is it a much faster process than say lam or chicken? do you create a stew first then put the fish in? Can the whole thing be made on a gas stove top or does it have to go in the oven? I don't own a tagine right now, but this thread is really inspiring me to get one.

There are many recipes for fish tagines or baked fish dishes along the Moroccan coast.

Inland, in the town of Fez, there are a whole slew of dishes using shad and shad roe. It is the only country I know where they love shad roe as much as Americans do.

The shad is stuffed with dates or almond paste, but you can substitute carp. . The shape of the tagra is to accomodate the shape of a 4 pound fish. It is baked in a 350 oven for about 45 minutes.Sometimes the fish is cooked on top of the stove; other times in the oven.

Also, thick fillets of white fleshed fish are smothered in vegetables and baked or cooked in a regular tagine without the conical top. Usually canes or slivers of celery or carrots are used to keep the fish fillets from touching the oh-too-hot bottom of the tagine. It is slow cooked for about 1 hour. Amazingly, the vegetables keep the fish from over-cooking.

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The Chicken Tagine recipe Sackvill Girl posted sounds wonderful & I'd like to try it but it starts the same way as the first recipe I tried.  Should I remove the onions after sautéing?  How do I get the chicken to brown? 

I decided to make this tonight and snapped a pic after about 4-5 minutes in my tagine.

tagine.jpg

That's how mine browns up. I let it go a couple more minutes and then add the potatoes, carrots, etc...

That's 4-5 minutes of the chicken top side down in the tagine.

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Oh yummy! Thank you Sackville. I can't wait to try this.

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