Lamb Tagine with Prunes

Lamb tagine, is a Moroccan delicacy that is so tasty that just imagining it makes your mouth water!  Don't worry if you do not have an actual tagine, the name of the recipient used to to cook this dish in, you can use any type of closed sauté. Moroccan dishes have this power to transport you through taste to other lands, they possess transcendental aromas!

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3 lb lamb shanks, sawed into 1-inch pieces
3 medium onions,
1 tbsp ras el hanout, plus more to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp + 1 tsp unsalted butter
a large pinch saffron
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1 cup canned chickpeas
200g butternut squash
3/4 cup pitted prunes
pita bread or lavash

To make your own Ras el Hanout
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves


  • Grate 1 onion and thickly slice the other two
  • Cut the butternut squash into chunks

1. Coat lamb with grated onion, ras el hanout, and salt and pepper. Marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

2. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a wide, heavy-bottomed pan. Add meat, and brown lightly on all sides.

3. Add saffron, water, and cinnamon stick; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, covered, for 1 1/2 hours.

4. Let cool slightly, and remove shanks. Pull meat from bones, keeping pieces as large as possible; discard fat, gristle, and bones. Season with salt and pepper. Skim fat from liquid, or refrigerate overnight, and remove fat. Refrigerate meat.

Next day

1. In a medium sauté pan, heat 1 teaspoon butter and 1 teaspoon oil. Add sliced onions, and sprinkle with sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium-high heat for 15 minutes, tossing or stirring only when brown.

2. Turn heat to low, and cook until onions are very soft and brown, about 20 more minutes.

3. Add tomatoes and cooking liquid from the lamb, and bring to a boil.

4. Add meat, chickpeas, and pumpkin or squash, and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

5. Remove lid, stir in prunes, and simmer until thick, about 15 to 20 more minutes.

6. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve immediately with harissa sauce and lavash or pita bread.

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