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Lamb Tagine with Apricots and Almonds

This Moroccan-inspired dish is delicious spooned over freshly steamed couscous. Boxes of quick-cooking couscous are carried in most markets. Serve it plain, or mix in some chopped fresh cilantro.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large lemon
  • 2 lb. boneless leg of lamb, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots or pitted dates, or a mixture
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Directions:

Prepare the lemon zest and juice
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest in long wide strips from the lemon and then squeeze 1 1/2 Tbs. juice. Reserve the zest and juice.

Brown the lamb
Season the lamb generously with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven or deep, heavy fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding, add the lamb and cook, turning as needed, until browned on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes total. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the lamb to a plate.

Add the onion and garlic to the pan, reduce the heat to medium, and sauté until the onion is softened and lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the coriander, cumin and cinnamon. Return the lamb and any juices from the plate to the pan and stir to coat with the spices. Stir in the broth and bring to a simmer.

Braise the tagine
Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for 1 hour. Stir in the apricots, almonds, lemon zest and lemon juice. Continue to simmer, uncovered, until the lamb is very tender and the liquids are lightly thickened to a sauce, about 20 minutes more. Remove and discard the lemon zest, and season the tagine with salt and pepper. Transfer to dinner plates or shallow bowls and serve immediately. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Simple Suppers, by Melanie Barnard (Oxmoor House, 2007).