Winter time calls for hearty stews, casseroles and tagines to lift the spirits and bring joy, warmth and wonderful cooking smells into the home. You can cook them in advance and they are also perfect for leftovers the next day. Cooking with dried fruit divides opinion, but I for one am a huge fan and if someone really dislikes prunes, apricots or raisins I suppose they could easily pick them out so as to avoid eating them, but in many respects I feel they would kind of be missing the point. I think the fruit adds to the depth of flavour and gives it a touch of sweetness that makes this dish stand out from the crowd.
I don’t have a proper tagine dish so I cook mine initially in my Le creuset pot and then transfer it to two oven proof dishes. It works equally well with rice, which you can cook with a couple of cardamom pods, so as to make the dish more exotic, or couscous with a sprinkling of roasted almonds. I have added a chilli to the dish, naturally, but this is optional and tastes equally delicious without.
The amount I cooked was more than sufficient for a large group, so just divide by 2 for a family of 4/5.
Slow Cooked Lamb with Tomatoes, Dried Fruit and Spices
Adapted from a similar recipe by Tana Ramsay’s Family Kitchen
3 tbsp olive oil
1.6kg lamb cut into bite sized portions
2 inch ginger, grated
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red chilli, chopped
6 spring onions
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground cumin
1.5 pints chicken stock
32 vine cherry tomatoes
handful of fresh thyme
15 dried apricots
10 pitted prunes, cut in half
handful of fresh coriander, chopped
rock salt, sprinkling
1) Preheat the oven to 160 degrees
2) Add 2 tbsp olive oil to a deep cooking pot and gently fry the ginger, garlic, chilli and spring onions for a couple of minutes.
3) Place the lamb into the pot and stir gently so that all the lamb begins to cook and change colour from a deep red to a lighter brown. This will take around 6 minutes. Once the lamb has changed colour add the rest of the spices and really stir into the lamb. Add the stock and then transfer into one or two oven proof dishes and place in the oven for 1 hour.
4) Whilst the lamb is cooking place the vine tomatoes in a separate oven proof dish with a few sprigs of thyme, a little olive oil and a sprinkling of rock salt. Place into the oven for 30 minutes so as to intensify the flavour.
5) When the oven roasted tomatoes have finished cooking add these, along with the dried fruits, a small handful of chopped coriander to the main dish and cook for a further 30 minutes. Serve immediately with a little extra fresh coriander sprinkled on top and either rice or couscous on the side.