Beef and Prune Tagine

Prunes low res

Serves 2 to 3

This is a dark and very rich Moroccan dish full of aromatic, body-warming spices. Every time I eat it I am transported back to the spice stalls in the souk in Marrakesh. Pyramids of brightly coloured ground spices draw you in and the air there is redolent with pungent cinnamon, cardamom and cumin. A bit different to the little pots of ground spices we see in our local supermarkets!

This dish is strong on flavour but not too hot. It has become a firm favourite with everyone who has tried it. The sweetness of the prunes is balanced by the sourness of the tamarind. I serve it with plain boiled white rice but it is equally good with flatbreads. As a vegetable accompaniment, I like courgette batons lightly sautéed in vegetable oil.

You’ll notice in this recipe that the meat isn’t browned first. Browning meat is a routine many cooks get into but it isn’t always necessary. In dishes like this where the meat is covered in spices, browning it could easily burn the spices and give the dish a bitter taste.

For the marinade…
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground allspice
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
2 tablespoons olive oil
600g (trimmed weight) beef shin or knuckle, cubed

For the finished dish…
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
15 cherry tomatoes, halved
250g soft stoned prunes, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons runny honey
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch coriander leaves, washed and roughly chopped (about 2 heaped tablespoons)
2 rounded tsp tamarind paste
2 green jalapeno chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
500ml beef stock

Start by marinating the beef 24 hours ahead of time. In a medium bowl, mix all of the spice powders with the olive oil to make a loose paste. Add the beef cubes and stir well to make sure the beef is evenly coated. Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for 24 hours.

To make the finished dish, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions until softened and starting to colour, approx 10 minutes. Add the garlic and stir fry for 1 minute. Add all of the other ingredients, except for the beef stock and the beef and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the beef, stir well and allow the beef to heat up. Finally, add the stock, bring to a simmer and cook in a low oven for 2 to 3 hours. Add a little boiling water from time to time if the dish starts to dry out but make sure the sauce in the final dish is rich and not too loose.

Posted in Beef Dishes, Meat Dishes, Recipes.

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