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Wolfert

Moroccan Tagine Cooking

537 posts in this topic

Thank you for having such confidence. If you have any problems converting any of my recipes to tagines from LC, don't hesitate to ask.

For those of you who have purchased and cured your Riffian or Souss tagine and want to braise a whole chicken in it, you might be interested in trying out my new method of preparing and braising the oh-so-too tender American chickens sold in the market these days. I would love some feedback.

From The Mediterranean Claypot Kitchen :

"The chicken should emerge especially moist with an unctuous tender texture, and a special "distinctive thumb print taste" of hand-crafted food that writers now fashionably call gout de terroir -- the taste of the earth.

1 whole chicken, backbone removed

Gently pound on the chicken breast and the knees in order to flatten the whole chicken. Make a small slit on each side of the lower breast to allow the leg to move freely. Pull each leg up in order to make the yoga pose called "forward bend" or Paschimothanasanalynn . Twist each wing back up over the neck and fasten legs, wings and neck with one long bamboo skewer. This should create a 1 1/2-inch thick, round shaped chicken with maximum skin exposure.

Season as directed in the recipe. Follow the recipe, but place the chicken on top of the ingredients for the sauce. Cover and cook slowly as directed in the recipe. Midway in the cooking, turn the chicken over and continue cooking as directed in the recipe. "

Further on in the text, I give different ways to brown the top including placing the bird on a flat tray, brushing it with some of the seasoned fat and broiling at the last minute.

gallery_8703_972_629.jpg


Edited by Wolfert (log)

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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*Press Release - URGENT! Immediate broadcast requested.*

"It has come to our attention that there has been a run on tagines. The tagine market is in a shambles and tagine futures are soaring basis a deepseated fear in the marketplace that supply will not keep up with demand. A congressional committee in the US has been convened to investigate. Senator Honksalot has stated, 'We will get to the bottom of this deplorable situation. Our investigators are looking into a secret Society that operates on the internet.' Stay tuned to your local news sources for updates on this fast breaking news."

I just read this and suffered the coffee-spraying-through-the-nose syndrome so ofted described on various threads.

Thank goodness I have a "KeySkin" keyboard cover, otherwise my keyboard might be in sad shape at this time.

For some reason, as I was reading the above, the scene in the movie Li'l Abner where the "Senator Phogbound" (or whatever he was) is orating and is followed by the song "The Country's in the Very Best of Hands."

Sometimes accidents happen in shipping. One vendor of tagines (not tagines.com) had several boxes shipped in a container and when customs finished investigating the shipment, pulling everything out of the container, they set a couch on top of the boxes of tagines, breaking almost every one.

They have insurance (because US customs takes no responsibility for their blunder) but it means they can't fill orders for a while.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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I'm still pondering some of the information above. Meanwhile, here's an edge detail of my Egyptian cooking bowl to show the hanging loops and the steadying points I mentioned upthread. Meyer lemons are in the pot for size reference and color interest.

gallery_17034_944_35876.jpg

Now, I've another materials-related question to ask: I'm really interested to see what happens if I do one tagine in the Egyptian clay pot and another tagine in a glazed ceramic pot. I happen to have a ceramic casserole dish of almost the exact same dimensions as the borma.

gallery_17034_944_21706.jpg

gallery_17034_944_17552.jpg

(Yes, that's my cone and pod collection in the lima casserole.)

I suspect that the ceramic pot results will be similar to the Le Creuset in terms of liquid generated/retained but more like the clay pot in terms of browning, and as far as the overall flavor goes, who knows? My question is whether I dare try this particular ceramic pot on top of the stove, over low heat, over a flame tamer, as though it's a clay pot. It doesn't claim to be stovetop safe, but the more I think about clay pots and stove tops, the more I think about being able to boil water in a paper cup: as long as there's liquid inside, the cup doesn't burn. I think the clay won't break as long as the heat is low and there's something inside to help regulate it. What do you think? Fifi, this is especially directed at you, but any and all opinions will be welcomed right up to cooking time later this afternoon.

My alternative, by the way, is a classic Corning round casserole. I'm sure that can take the heat, but its dimensions are different.


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Sorry andie . . . It just popped into my head and I couldn't resist. :laugh:

I dimly remember that there was a shipment of some kind that was scanned with the new devices that can detect trace amounts of radiation and they detected some. It came from pottery. I wonder if that was the incident.

(Note to alarmists: This in no way means that pottery is dangerous. At a low level the earth and everything made from it is radioactive to some small extent. And you are at this very minute being bombarded by cosmic rays at a much higher rate than you would have to fear from any earthly source.)


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Nothing to do with radiation in this situation. ALL shipments from middle eastern ports to the US are gone over with extra care, particularly ones containing large furinture items, rugs and various vessels that might be used to transport contraband.

They even test the packing material to make sure it wasn't soaked in a liquid containing contraband then dried so it could be rinsed out and reconstituted here.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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The braised and browned chicken dish called djej mhammer (meaning reddish due to the huge amount of paprika) that you prepared in  two pots is what I want to write about right now.

...

<comparison of djej mhammer as published in two Wolfert cookbooks 30 years apart>

...

Here is the kicker: I notice there are  three important changes: the  water,the pot, and the browning of the chicken.

In CFM I bring 3 cups of water in a 5 1/2 quart casserole with cover  to the boil , lower the heat, cover, and cook l hour . When ready to brown, I do it in a skillet and brown one chicken at a time. That is because I didn't have a broiler in Morocco.

In Slow Med I bring 1 1/2 cups of water in a large enameled cast iron pot   and cover and cook the chicken for l hour. (There is no mention of a tagine as an alternative .) and I broil the chicken. 

. My mother and best girl friend living in the states spot checked a lot of the recipes using whatever pots they had to make sure the recipes worked.

So which recipe, if any, do you want me to type up?

Can you see that the bourma had some insight into the dish and corrected the error?

What else can I say?

Mm. It may be that more liquid is needed in the clay pot, to allow for the loss and concentration that happens during the cooking. That will ensure plenty of sauce at the end, for those of us who are sauce junkies. Will that overcover the meat, though? Is a tagine enough like other braises that the liquid level should really be a third to a halfway up the object being cooked? Or is it more of a set quantity of liquid to ingredients?

If overcovering the meat isn't an issue, maybe a good rule of thumb is to double the liquid for a clay pot, or halve it for a metal pot, depending on which way you go. If overcovering the meat is an issue, I suppose one could live dangerously by adding water to the braising liquid as it, er, was schlurped up and out, to maintain a constant liquid level. The dangerous part would be letting the level get too low and adding too much cold water. The water would have to be hot, wouldn't it? Come to think of it, I did have to do that the other day with the lamb tagine from your web site. Come to think of it...ok, I really think the clay pots need more liquid.

You absolutely should type up a djej mhammer recipe so other interested readers (especially Sackville, who asked) can try it too. If you don't, I'll be happy to do it - I logged on with that intent, but don't want to if you're in the process right now. If I do it, it will have to be from The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen.

The other thing I think you could say relates to the discussion we're having right now. If you're cooking a tagine, how do you know much liquid should be there? There's a visual cue for the simmer (barely bubbling). There's a visual cue for the spice coatings (well coated, and heated until the meat is warming/steam begins to rise from the pot). There's a tactile cue for the meat (pull-apart, meltingly tender). What's the cue for the appropriate amount of liquid?


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Nancy:

Your claypot is shallow enough to stand in for all tagine cooking in clay. With a crumbled piece of wet parchment and that ceramic cover from the other pot which its dome-y top, you needn't wrestle with changing to another pot.

Your bourma looks as if it could carry on the spirit of claypot cooking perfectly.

The dilemma that faces most cooks trying their hand at Moroccan 'tagine cuisine' is to accept the concept of the "bottom up" nature of the cooking, to cook over heat not in an oven. And to the desire to keep traditional cooking alive, flavorful and compelling, and maintaining the spirit of the food by using the right ingredients.


“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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Smithy, I think you are on the right track as to being able to use the glazed dish stove top with the proper precautions and will be interested in the comparative results. I would try it. The only caveat would be if the glaze is crazed or cracked in any way so that moisture could get under it and "blow it off" when the water gets heated to steam.

The glazed pot will not have the water "galloping" through the walls of the pot but will have about the same thermal characteristics of the unglazed clay. The Corning ceramic is an entirely different thing, thermally speaking. The thermal characteristics are a complex mix of heat capacity and conductivity issues. Only the unglazed clay adds that complicating, and fascinating, characteristic of "galloping" water through the walls.

On your Egyptian pot, I think I understand the hanging loops but could you explain the steadying points and how they are employed in traditional useage?

Uh . . . As I think about it, I am not sure I understand the hanging loops, either. Please expound. That is a fascinating pot.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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On your Egyptian pot, I think I understand the hanging loops but could you explain the steadying points and how they are employed in traditional useage?

Uh . . . As I think about it, I am not sure I understand the hanging loops, either. Please expound. That is a fascinating pot.

You have to understand, I have seen these pots in exactly 3 uses:

(1) at our friend's flat in Luxor, where they were used to serve potatoes in tomato sauce (I think she cooked in a larger pot, considering the way the borma kept magically refilling as we heroically struggled to eat our way through the feast - hospitality and etiquette there is a whole different topic)

(2) at the pottery stand, where there are oodles of wonderful clay pots of all sizes and purposes, all uncured, and

(3) at our house, where until very recently this one has been holding an impressive collection of cones and pods from Southern California.

However, I have seen the tagines (smaller pots, often used for moussaka, you can see one in my Braising Lab 1, or I can post another photo) in action in Egypt. The tagines have handles without holes, so there's no way to loop something through the handles to suspend the pot over a fire. The restaurants set these pots right down on the coals, or in the fireplace, or in the oven. There has to be a way to lift them out. As I recall there are tongs or a U-shaped implement on a long handle for reaching in to grab the pot. Those have to fit in under the handles. When I say "steadying point" I'm guessing, and it's just a guess, that the little triangular point fits into the crotch of the U or the tong to steady it just a bit more and keep it from pivoting too much on its handles.

Now, I'm speculating on this borma and the hanging loops (main handles), but you could loop wire through the handles and then hang this pot from a horizontal rod that you could swing in and out of the fire, a la big pots in an early American fireplace. The problem is that this pot is so broad compared to its depth that it will swing like crazy if you have to stir it. You have to be able to steady it somehow, and the triangular things I called "steadying points" are strategically located at the farthest point of the rim from the hanging loops to do just that.

Of course, it's also entirely possible that these loopy handles are for putting ropes through so you can hang these pots as planters (a future use for more pots at our house) and that the triangular points are there to strengthen the rim, or because they look cool, or because sometimes the pots go into a ring-shaped support and need 4-point support, or because they've been done that way forever and nobody knows why anymore. :biggrin:

Thanks for reminding me about the different thermal characteristics of the Corning vs. these two pots. I suspect the lima pot has different characteristics than the clay too, but that they're a lot closer together. OK, it's decided. If the lima pot blows up, there'll be space atop the cabinet for a Rifi tagine.


Edited by Smithy (log)

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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. . . . .

OK, it's decided.  If the lima pot blows up, there'll be space atop the cabinet for a Rifi tagine.

That's the spirit!

Thanks for the feedback on the design details. It is all fascinating to me.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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. . . . .

The dilemma that  faces most  cooks trying their hand at Moroccan 'tagine cuisine' is  to accept the concept of the "bottom up" nature of the cooking, to cook over heat not in an oven. And to the desire  to keep traditional cooking alive, flavorful and compelling, and maintaining the spirit of the food by using the right ingredients.

I am going to make a leap of faith here . . .

Maybe one of the problems some of us have here in the west is that we don't really understand gentle heat from the bottom. Part of my "leap" is that we don't understand what that means. Driven by the need to conserve precious fuel, this cooking technique has been developed to maximize the effect of very gentle heat from below provided by the fewest coals possible. I am beginning to believe that we are having to go to extraordinary measures to adapt our gonzo stoves to this gentle bottom heat . . . flame tamers, wok rings, etc. I think I will try the "few coals" under the tagine when I get it. I have my smoker which I can break down to provide a place to ignite a chimney of charcoal. (I am working on an apartment balconey.) Then perhaps, I can get a cheap grill or habachi to sit the tagine on and transfer a few coals at a time under it. I can put my remote thermometer probe in there to monitor the temperature of the ingredients. I can also make note of the temperatures with how many coals I use, standardizing on Kingsford briquets maybe.

Oh my. This sounds like a lot of fun! It will probably be quite a while before I get to try this as my tagine hasn't arrived yet. It will have to be cured. Then I have to find that little charcoal grill or whatever. (Not to worry. This internet medium means that I can always bump this topic back up.) Then I have to decide which recipe to try first. Any recommendations?


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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News update: There really has been a run on the tagines! The tagines.com web site now says, for the Rifi tagines, "Order now and allow 12 - 16 weeks for delivery" Last week it said "in stock"! :laugh::laugh:

Talk about mixed feelings. My self-control held long enough that I can't have that instant gratification. :shock: Now I really may as well hold off on the order. :hmmm:


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Nancy:

Your claypot is  shallow enough to stand in for all tagine cooking in clay. With a crumbled piece of wet parchment and that ceramic cover from the other pot which its dome-y top, you needn't wrestle with changing to another pot.

Your bourma looks as if it could carry on the spirit of claypot cooking perfectly.

The dilemma that  faces most  cooks trying their hand at Moroccan 'tagine cuisine' is  to accept the concept of the "bottom up" nature of the cooking, to cook over heat not in an oven. And to the desire  to keep traditional cooking alive, flavorful and compelling, and maintaining the spirit of the food by using the right ingredients.

Paula, thank you for that. I managed to overlook this post until after I'd gone to the tagines.com web site and discovered that Fifi's jest wasn't really a joke. What perfect timing!


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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From the 1973 edition

Mhammer.Chicken Braised and Browned (Djej Mahammer)

This is a Rabat recipe for a dish that is cooked and served throughout Morocco. In Tangier some people add a little bit of hot red pepper to the sauce and eat the chicken with sautéed potatoes; in Fez they sprinkle it with buttered and browned almonds; and in Marrakech, where it is served without accompaniment, the sauce is usually jazzed up with extra paprika, and sprigs of mint are added with the green coriander.

Serves 8

1/8 teaspoon pulverized saffron soaked in ¼ cup hot water

l teaspoon mashed garlic

¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

Salt

2 chickens (3 pounds each) whole, with 3 livers

¼ cup grated onion

¾ cup sweet butter

4 sprigs green coriander, pounded to a paste in a mortar

Mix the saffron water with the garlic, spices and slat. Rub into the prepared chickens and lay them on their sides in the casserole. Add the livers, onions, and half the butter. Pour in 3 cups water and bring to a boil. Add the coriander and simmer, covered, over moderate low heat l hour, turning the chickens from time to time.

Midway, remove and mash the livers, then return them to the sauce.

When very tender, remove the chickens and keep warm. Heat the remaining butter in the skillet and brown one chicken one at a time until crusty all over. Transfer to a serving platter and put in a warm oven while browning the second chicken. (They can be browned in very hot oven.)

Meanwhile, by boiling rapidly, uncovered, reduce the sauce to make abut ¾ cup thick gray. Serve the chicken with the sauce pour over.

c\paula wolfert, 1973,2005

Double Cooked Red Chicken Marrakech Style

The generous use of Moroccan mild paprika, felfla hloua, in this classic recipe explains its Moroccan name, m’hammer, or ‘reddish.’ The double-cooking method increases the complexity and depth of flavor of the dish. Garnish with slices of preserved lemons, if desired.

Note the change of garnish from the original recipe.

Serves 6 to 8

5 cloves garlic, smashed

L tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

l/8 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed

1 ¼ teaspoons coarse salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 whole chickens (3 pounds each) backbones removed

1 12 tablespoons sweet paprika, preferably ‘Spanish” or felfla hloua

l teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Pinch of ground ginger

Cayenne

1 small onion, grated

1. In a mortar or mini food processor, mash or pulse the garlic with the cilantro, saffron, and l teaspoon of the salt until a coarse paste forms. Transfer the paste to a bowl and stir in the melted butter.

2. Re-form the chickens and tie them up with string. Rub the garlic paste all over the chickens, cover loosely with plastic wrap or foil, and let stand at room temperature for l hour.

3. Put the chicken backbones in a large enameled cast iron casserole. Add the chickens, breast side up. In a bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the paprika with ½ teaspoon of the cumin, the pepper, ginger, and a pinch of cayenne. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the chickens and cook over moderately low heat until steam begins to rise, about 5 minutes.

4. Mix the onion into 1 ½ cups water and pour around he chickens. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the juices run clear when the thighs are pierced near the bone with a knife, about 1 hour. Transfer the chickens to a cutting board and remove the strings and keep the chicken intact.

5. Discard the backbones. skim off the fat from the sauce, reserving 3 tablespoons fat. Boil the sauce until it is reduced to l cup, about l5 minutes. Transfer to a small saucepan and keep warm.

6. Preheat the broiler; stir the remaining ½ tablespoon paprika and ½ teaspoon cumin into the reserved 3 tablespoons chicken fat. Add a pinch of cayenne and ¼ teaspoon salt. Put the chicken in a roasting pan, breast side up, and rub with the spiced fat. Broil 8 to 10 inches from the heat until browned on all sides. Carve the chicken and pass the warm sauce at the table.

7.

8.

9. The chickens and sauce can be prepared through step 4 and refrigerated overnight. Let the chickens return to room temperature before proceeding. Rewarm the sauce in a small saucepan over low heat

What would I do today? I would use the Riffian or the Souss tagine and use one chicken (and maybe 1 or 2 chicken livers) and set the backbone-less chicken into the yoga pose upthread. Cut everything else in half and proceed with either recipe.

If desired, garnish with preserved lemons or mint and cilantro.


Edited by Wolfert (log)

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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News update:  There really has been a run on the tagines!  The tagines.com web site now says, for the Rifi tagines, "Order now and allow 12 - 16 weeks for delivery"  Last week it said "in stock"! :laugh:  :laugh:

Talk about mixed feelings.  My self-control held long enough that I can't have that instant gratification.  :shock: Now I really may as well hold off on the order.  :hmmm:

I hate to burst your bubble but the site said the same thing when I ordered mine. I just checked the tracking and it is on its way. :raz:


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Paula, thanks for posting the recipes. I am so enjoying this thread.


Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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News update:  There really has been a run on the tagines!  The tagines.com web site now says, for the Rifi tagines, "Order now and allow 12 - 16 weeks for delivery"  Last week it said "in stock"! :laugh:  :laugh:

Talk about mixed feelings.  My self-control held long enough that I can't have that instant gratification.  :shock: Now I really may as well hold off on the order.  :hmmm:

I hate to burst your bubble but the site said the same thing when I ordered mine. I just checked the tracking and it is on its way. :raz:

You could always just organise a trip to Morocco and pick out your own :wink:

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News update:  There really has been a run on the tagines!  The tagines.com web site now says, for the Rifi tagines, "Order now and allow 12 - 16 weeks for delivery"  Last week it said "in stock"! :laugh:   :laugh:

Talk about mixed feelings.  My self-control held long enough that I can't have that instant gratification.  :shock: Now I really may as well hold off on the order.  :hmmm:

I hate to burst your bubble but the site said the same thing when I ordered mine. I just checked the tracking and it is on its way. :raz:

You could always just organise a trip to Morocco and pick out your own :wink:

It's crossed my mind. I missed out on my Egypt excursion this year, and don't see Morocco happening this year either. I'm trying to work out whether I have friends good enough to deal with a tagine via Insha-Allah mail...


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Good grief, I just realized I posted the same thing twice. Sorry, folks -

<insert favorite funny story here while I pull my foot out of my mouth>


Edited by Smithy (log)

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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There is a link on Pauls's website for Berber sources that organizes Moroccan trips. Vacationing in May would be too short a notice, but was I tempted.....I'm hoping my tagine arrive in time for the shad season. Water is still too cold in these parts.


Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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There is a link on Pauls's website for Berber sources that organizes Moroccan trips.  Vacationing in May would be too short a notice, but was I tempted.....I'm hoping my tagine arrive in time for the shad season.  Water is still too cold in these parts.

I can also recommend tours through www.eqtravel.com -- great fair trade group, though they mostly do desert treks. Generally, if you ever have the chance then do go. It is an amazing country!

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Berbersources.com is a wonderful site and I highly recommend it.

Jill, who used to teach French at Cornell, has put together museum quality items fromMorocco. I wish I could go on her trip because she has the best contacts.

Without sounding like a commercial, I will tell you that I have bought lots of beautiful claypots from her. Not all are for cooking but they are beautiful and unique. She doesn't have the Riffian tagine.

And, she is the only one I know who has the Slow Food award winning argan oil. There is lots of argan oil around , hers is the best.

With that said, I think I better rush over to her site and get that green amlou bowl before it goes!


Edited by Wolfert (log)

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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Last night I did the clay pot vs. glazed ceramic pot test. In those pots I cooked an adaptation of Djaj Mqualli, Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives, from Claudia Roden's The New Book of Middle Eastern Food. It was an adaptation in the sense that she's written the recipe for a heavy metal pot and does the browning first. I used the "start the tagine cold" method I'm learning here, so I didn't brown the chicken first but put it under the broiler later.

The two pots are close to the same size and shape. Since the lima green glazed casserole doesn't pretend to be stovetop-safe, I put it up on the wok ring. I started out over a small electric coil, thinking that would keep the heat from rising up around the sides as noted previously, and quickly learned that the heat rose and spread anyway. I shifted the assembly to a large coil so the treatment of the two pots would be as similar as possible. The Egyptian clay pot sat on a flame tamer on a large coil. Here they are, just starting to warm the spices and onions:

gallery_17034_979_4519.jpg

My bad lab technique: the recipe called for adding water to about halfway up the chicken, and that's what I did. I remembered just after that step that I'd wanted to measure the difference in liquid, before and after, between the two setups. I wasn't up for disassembling the whole thing, so I sucked out as much water as I could with a turkey baster and measured it, then returned it to its pot. It seemed to be pretty even: about 1-1/3 c. in the lima casserole and 1-1/4 c. in the clay bowl.

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Once they had come to the boil, I had to lower the heat way down to get the slow low simmer. The clay pot was slower to respond to changes in heat settings, but each time I changed one burner I ended up changing the other, and they always ended at the same burner setting. Since the ceramic pot was sitting a good 2" off the coil I take that to mean it's a more efficient heat conductor. (My stove isn't fancy but it's fairly new and I think the burners run at the same rate.) The glazed casserole had a lid, which, by the way, did NOT stay cool the way a tagine lid is supposed to. The clay pot got crumpled wet parchment paper and a tight aluminum foil cap. I didn't think to use parchment paper in the lima casserole.

Note on the slow low simmer: my probe said the temperature at the bottom of the liquid for each pot was 205*F. This is what I remembered from last time and didn't want to report. What's going on that it's below 212*F? I checked the probe. It measures boiling water at 210*F so my readings are pretty reliable.

The broiled meat looked the same; neither set threw off more fat than the other. The clay pot meat is on the right.

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Now the differences started coming out.

(1) Liquid left over: The lima pot casserole, after the meat was removed for broiling, had a bit more liquid than the clay pot, but not much more than their original differences. Neither had generated enough liquid to cover the chicken. What was significant was that the glazed casserole sauce had almost twice as much fat in it as the clay pot sauce. It was also interesting that the glazed casserole sauce took considerably longer to boil down than the sauce in the clay pot. (I used those vessels to boil the respective sauces down.) Is that because of the higher fat content in the sauce? I defatted to some degree, but wasn't up for straining out all the onion and waiting to let the sauce separate out, so the percentage difference in the two sauces probably held.

(2) Meat texture: The meat looked the same, and darned pretty. However, of the chicken thighs in the lima casserole, 1 out of 5 was falling-apart tender. 5 of the 6 thighs in the clay pot were falling-apart tender.

The clay-pot chicken is at the right, and glazed casserole chicken is at top.

gallery_17034_979_45429.jpg

Summary: the two pots behaved more nearly the same than the clay pot vs. the Le Creuset in terms of liquid generated, fat thrown off, temperature settings, and cook times. The unglazed clay pot still generated a more tender meat, and a less fatty sauce. Do you suppose the fat's also getting schlurped into the pot? Could it be contributing to that hydraulic pull somehow?

Edited to correct some photo problems. Many thanks to Fifi for her help here!


Edited by Smithy (log)

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I do, actually, have another question about the Djaj Mqualli: what to do with all that chicken. The seasonings were powdered ginger, twice as much powdered cinnamon, a bit of saffron, salt and pepper, onions, garlic, and at the end green olives and preserved lemon.

For my tastes, the finished dish was too cinnamony. It's not bad - certainly better than edible - but I prefer a whisper of cinnamon on chicken and this is more of a shout. Now, what can I do with the rest of the chicken to balance out that cinnamon? What other seasonings would help balance it? I'm kicking around ideas like putting chicken chunks into a rice dish with more lemon and olives, more ginger, nuts, maybe some artichoke hearts. What about cumin? Allspice? Mace??

What other directions could I go with this cinnamony chicken meat? Would it work with tomatoes? Put it into some beans? A salad? Simmer the whole in a broth and run the sauce in a different direction?

Any and all suggestions will be entertained.


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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First: Thank you for that incredible report. When will I ever have the time to absorb all this knowledge that you are putting forth?.

Second: I know Claudia Roden and she is an old friend of mine dating back to 1973. I don't always agree with her on Moroccan cooking. I believe Middle Eastern cooking is not North African cooking.

Third: The sauces in Morocco are numerous but codified for over two hundred years. I'm not kidding. There are variations throughout the country, but when the word mqalli is used, it means a certain type of sauce whether it is for everyday type tagine or a special one for a holiday.

The everyday mqalli uses pepper, turmeric, saffron, garlic, salt, and ginger; the chicken, if using, is cut up or left whole and is heated in the warmed oil along with the spices and turned on all sides to get the spices into the flesh. Grated onion is sometimes used to help thicken the sauce. Nowadays, tomato is sometimes added. In the traditional everyday mqalli, it is garnished with preserved lemon and olives, but you can make a m'qalli with vegetables such as artichokes and fava beans, or okra and quince instead.

When cinnamon is added to a m'qalli, it is for the sweet version. Think prunes or figs or toasted almonds.

There are seven other major sauces in Moroccan cooking; five of them are garnished with preserved lemon and olives; almost all can be garnished with sweet fruits instead. It is the spice structure that makes the difference.

The mhammer of the upthread with chicken or lamb or beef is predominately colored red with lots of paprika. The word means reddish.

Rules are to be broken, of course, but when one says m'qalli, m'ghdour, marka, m'hammer, dalaa, emchermel, massal, or kdra, ---names for certain tagines iwth special spices and unique cooking methods, most everyone in Morocco knows what you mean.

of


Edited by Wolfert (log)

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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