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Moroccan Tagine Cooking


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Thanks Paula! I saw that photo and description earlier on this thread, but still was unable to follow it. When Googled the yoga position you named (being unenlightened re yoga) it brought me to your description -- no other entries. How about describing it via Pilates!

I think perhaps I've figured it out, but I still don't see how one skewer holds the entire thing - I ended up with two, and a somewhat mauled chicken after all those yoga positions.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Everyone,

This is my first post on the board. Thanks to everyone who has participated in the thread so far, it has been quite informative and enjoyable to read.

I have a couple of questions regarding a tagine that I was given as a gift recently. (It was purchased from a store called Haven in Toronto). I hope that this is the appropriate place to post them.

Some pictures....

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To the questions:

1 - I am quite concerned about lead as I have read that certain tagines can leach lead into the food. How can I be sure that the tagine is lead free? Does the fact that it is unglazed (I am pretty sure it is unglazed as there is no shine at all) mean that I don't have to worry about lead? Is there anything abnormal about the green colouration on the underside of the lid?

2 - The bottom does not seem to be of the southern Moroccan rounded variety but nor is it flat. I imagine that it would rest on most of the points of a simmer mat. I am using an electric coil stove. Does this sound about right?

3 - As the interior is unfinished it is quite rough and it looks like small bits of clay will rub off into the food over time - is that abnormal?

Sorry about all the questions. I can't wait to start using it but just want to be sure that it is entirely safe first.

Thanks in advance to anyone willing to take a stab at some answers,

Robin

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Hi, Robin!

That's a nice-looking tagine. Congratulations: what a great gift!

As far as I know, the only time you have to worry about lead is with the glaze, not with the clay itself. There are lead-checking kits you can buy that involve leaving a test solution soaking in the pot for some set period of time, then pouring off some of the liquid into another test solution and looking for a color change. Even though I've used that very test kit, I can't remember quite what's in it. (I do know where to look, so if you need a reference let me know.) I would restrict its use to the interior of the lid and not the cooking pot itself, since the clay may be porous enough to take up some of the test solution. Personally, I don't think I'd worry about lead with this tagine.

I still haven't gotten around to a simmer mat, but I do cook on electric coils. If you find the tagine too wobbly, look around for a wok ring. My rounded-bottom clay pots fit nicely on that over the coils.

As to the rough interior finish: judging by your pictures, I'm thinking it's about the normal level of roughness - which is to say that you'll never mistake it for fine china or porcelain but you don't have to worry about erosion. If the clay is well-fired, it won't rub off with time. A very rough surface might lose smalll bits like grains of sand into your food, but you'll know about that in a hurry. My guess is that you won't notice a change in the finish, unless the tagine builds up an interior coating. (Mine hasn't.)

Enjoy!

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 agree with Smithy.

But after following all the curing advice above, if you still have a grainy texture on the interior of the tagine base, here is what you should do:Pour a good amount of whole milk into the tagine and place it in a cold oven; turn the oven to 300 degrees F.;let the milk simmer for about an hour; allow the milk to cool in the tagine in the oven;rinse the tagine and dry it well; and then lightly rub the interior with olive oil.

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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  • 2 weeks later...

*bump*

Robin, I realize we're just coming off the holidays, but I'm wondering. Did you try that lead checking kit? If so, how did you use it (i.e. in the lid?) and what were the results?

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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Would sanding the rough parts of a tagine be that bad of an idea?

I had some rough parts on some fire brick I was using for a pizza oven and, although it chewed up the sandpaper, I found sanding helped to smooth things out a bit.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Check out these glazed terra cotta tagines at Sur La Table.

The larger one is 13 inches in diameter and holds enough to serve 6 people (or more, depending on the size of the servings).

The smaller one is 8 1/2 inches in diameter but is deep and besides using as a tagine, it makes a great oven baker for a pot pie or a fruit cobbler.

"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

 

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I have a question for Paula Wolfert. I've made your Moroccan bread twice now. It turned out well, but I was unable to figure out how to roll it around the inside of a bowl to make it round. It ended up kind of strange looking. Would just shaping it into a ball, turning the edges under, as one does with most round loaves, be okay.

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  • 6 months later...

Hi Everyone,

This is my very first post to this www site so please forgive me if I don't post this correctly.

I am looking for some good recipes and techniques for making tagines with fresh, boneless fish filets. I live on the Gulf Coast and have access to incredibly fresh fish every day. When I have dinner parties, most of my guests prefer fish that is boneless and not too much work to eat, so I don't want to make my tagines with whole fish. I can buy fresh filets of any Gulf fish (tuna, grouper, redfish, mahi, flounder, croaker, sole, amberjack, drum, pompano, swordfish, wahoo, snapper, etc.). I'm not really an experienced tagine maker, so I don't have a good base of knowledge for experimentation. I'm worried that the fish might fall apart in the long, slow cooking process, so I'd thought I'd post here and see if anyone has some good ideas and/or experience in this area. I have access to great spices, olives and I've already made a bunch of preserved lemons, so I'm ready to go, but I'd love some input.

Thanks for your thoughts,

Greg

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Welcome and thrice welcome to eGullet, Greg! Come on in and set a spell.

First of all, your post came through just fine. I'm personally glad you picked this fine thread for your first post.

Now that I've brought the Welcome Wagon™ out to meet you, I have to say that I've never tried slow-cooking fish in any vessel, so I can't be much help. I think that you'll need a sturdy fish so it doesn't fall apart too quickly. For instance: tuna or swordfish, yes; grouper no. I'm wondering at what stage you'll end up with a fish stew instead of just good fish. Have you tried slow-cooking fish before? If so, what did you cook and for how long?

As for the seasonings - well, I can imagine a slow simmer (or tagine) of fish with preserved lemons and olives, and I'd think it would be pretty darned good. Somehow I don't imagine that going well with tuna, but I don't know sea fish well enough to come up with an alternative. (What fish need strong seasonings to be at their best?) I'm just thinking aloud, trying to come up with something useful. What about shrimp or mussels for this kind of treatment?

Let's hope someone with experience pops up soon. They belong to eGullet; they just have to notice this thread. Meanwhile, stick around and keep on posting!

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'm sure Paula will be along to give a definitive answer, but bear in mnd that "long, slow" cooking when it comes to fish is probably not more than one hour. I agree with Smithy that if you use a tight-grained fish like tuna or swordfish or mahi and keep the heat very low it'll hold together just fine. I wouldn't use snapper or any flaky fish, unless you want to end up with a more homogeneous dish with a stew-like texture, which could also be delicious. ANd personally, I think preserved lemons and olives are wonderful with tuna.

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Greg - do you have any of Paula Wolfert's cookbooks? She is the Queen of Tagine cooking. As a matter of coincidence, my BF went fishing in Alaska last week and brought home 150 pounds of fish. The first one I cooked up was from Wolfert's Slow Mediterranean cookbook and is a great Tunisian recipe that I cooked with halibut. It can be significantly hot and spicy but I'm a bit of a wimp and toned it down a little and a group of six heartily enjoyed it with a side of couscous.

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...  ANd personally, I think preserved lemons and olives are wonderful with tuna.

I'm so glad you wrote that, Abra. I clearly wasn't thinking last night when I wrote that - or I wasn't thinking clearly. I add preserves lemons and/or olives to my tuna salads on a regular basis. Why I couldn't see it with fresh tuna is a mystery now.

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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  • 1 month later...
Would I still be able to cooking a 'tagine' recipe without using a tagine? :unsure:

In other words, is there a possible substitute?

Yes.

Here are the basic requirements for the cooking vessel you need:

1. It should be heavy for its size, so it's slow to heat and cool with changes in temperature. (Lightweight aluminum is contraindicated.)

2. It should have a lid of some sort - you can augment the lid with parchment paper inside, if necessary to contain the moisture.

3. It should be able to take heat from below, as in "ok for use on the stove top". You might be surprised at what qualifies for that. I've even cooked in a Corning casserole dish on the stove top, despite the protests that it isn't flame proof.

4. I think there's a benefit to cooking in an unglazed clay pot, so if I'm going for the ideal I go for those open pores. YMMV.

I've done tagines in clay pots, Corning casserole dishes, heavy aluminum pots, cast iron chicken fryers and Le Creuset enameled cast iron. The best results came with the things that sealed tightly and heated (or cooled) slowly. The "cooling tower" lid of the tagine helps with self-basting, but there are good substitutes.

For that matter, if I hadn't blown so much money on cookware over the years that I had so many choices, I'd cheerfully cook a tagine in a lightweight casserole dish to get the flavors. You might miss some nuances, but you'd get the main benefit of the dish: the Cliff Notes version, as it were.

Let us know what you try, and how it goes!

Edited for punctuation

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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Smithy: Thanks so much for all that detail :)

I'll probably give my claypot a go then -I'll get back to you guys once I do...must hunt for recipes now  :raz:

Moroccan Lamb Tagine Smothered with Lemon and Olives is one I really like. I think if you look around upthread you'll find more links, too. Claypots rock!

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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  • 4 years later...

A very interesting piece in today's Times by Florence Fabricant on comparing some of the new tagines versus a traditional unglazed one.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/29/dining/29kitc.html

She is absolutely correct that you need far less liquid when preparing a tagine in an unglazed pot.

As a first-time tagine user, can I correct what I suspect must have been a typo in Paula Wolfert's post? Surely it should read "You need far less liquid when preparing a tagine in an glazed pot."

This is what the the writer actually implies, what you would expect from a glazed pot (because the liquid condenses and drips back down into the food), and what I've read elsewhere.

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  • 2 years later...

Hello everyone,

I currently own a japanese tagine from http://toirokitchen.com/products/fukkura-san/ which i love but its not as deep as most moroccan tagines. I have my eyes on the rifi tagine. I cook for just my hisband and i mostly but i do cook for friends occassionaly, no more than three additional people. What size do most of you have? What size would you recommend?

I feel a little like i am cheating on my fukkara san tagine but i would definitely still use since it has multiple purposes. Ive used the bottom dish in a broiler and on dry heat, and for saute with no issue. I cook mostly Moroccan dishes so its a bot of a pain since i have to reduce liquids a great deal or risk overflow. For a space idea, it can hold 1 chicken, up to 3 pounds of lamb chunks or 6 to 7 thighs. I attached photos of my tagine and the dish i cooked from Paula Wolferts The Food of Morocco: lamb tagine with apples and prunes. It was delicious!

image.jpg

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It's beautiful!  I'm not sure the rifi tagine I have would hold any more.  I think it's advertised as a 13" tagine because that's the outside dimension of the rim.  The working interior (excluding the rim) of the bottom half is 10-1/2" at the top, tapering to 8-1/2" at the base, and 2-1/2" deep. One difference between them is that my tagine is unglazed, and that seems to affect the way sauces develop.  Your Japanese tagine has a glazed interior, doesn't it?

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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