Mocking your crock? Try slow-cooking in a tagine

  • By J.M. Hirsch Associated Press
  • Tuesday, April 23, 2013 4:10pm
  • Life

I have two issues with slow cookers, and both are deal breakers.

First, I resent the fact that if I want my meat browned — and therefore flavorful — I must sear it in another pan before adding it to the slow cooker. And yes, I know that a small number of (typically very expensive) slow cookers do have the ability to sear meat.

But the reality is, most of us don’t own those. To me, much of the convenience of a slow cooker is the ability to do everything in one pot. If I can’t, it’s a lot less convenient.

Second, I distrust how evenly they heat. While there are some dishes for which uneven heating — and even a bit of overheating — isn’t a major deal (I’m talking to you, chili), most meals aren’t that forgiving.

I have rendered far too many recipes inedible by misjudging how intense (or not) my slow cooker would cook. I much prefer the precision of my stovetop, which I can tweak to perfection.

It’s for these reasons I’ve recently become enamored with one of the original slow cookers: the tagine.

At heart, these conical cooking pots from Morocco are similar to a Dutch oven, at least in terms of how they are intended to be used.

The base is shallow, similar to a saute pan. This is topped with a cone-shaped lid. The base is heated directly on the stove, giving the cook not only the ability to sear meat, but also to finely tune the temperature.

Many tagines are ceramic, but some are cast iron.

Once the ingredients are seared and liquid is added, the lid is placed on the base, the heat is adjusted to maintain a simmer and the cook can walk away.

The shape of the lid is designed to allow steam to gather and condense at the top, then drip back down into the food. The result is near flawless slow cooking that results in moist, tender meats.

I usually start by browning onions and garlic in oil, then adding meat and searing that. I dump in the rest of my ingredients, then pop on the lid, lower the heat and walk away for several hours.

So to help usher in spring, I used my tagine to create this recipe for lamb with chickpeas, tomatoes and rosemary. Hugely flavorful and tremendously easy. I keep it lean by trimming away as much fat from the lamb as possible.

Don’t have a tagine? Use a heavy duty Dutch oven.

Rosemary lamb tagine with chickpeas and tomatoes

2tablespoons olive oil

1large yellow onion, diced

1head garlic, minced

2pounds lamb leg or stew meat, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch pieces

2tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

115-ounce can chopped or diced tomatoes

115-ounce can chickpeas, drained

3/4cup chicken broth

Salt and ground black pepper

1lemon, cut into wedges

Chopped fresh parsley, to garnish

Plain Greek yogurt, to serve

In the base of a tagine or large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the onion and garlic, then saute until tender and lightly browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the lamb and brown on all sides, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the rosemary, tomatoes, chickpeas and broth, then bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to maintain a bare simmer and let cook for 2 hours, or until the lamb is fork tender.

Season with salt and pepper, then divide between serving plates. Squeeze 1 or 2 lemon wedges over each serving, then top with parsley and a dollop of yogurt.

Makes 8 servings. Per serving: 300 calories; 110 calories from fat (37 percent of total calories); 12 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 75 mg cholesterol; 21 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 28 g protein; 510 mg sodium.

More in Life

Marysville theater stages Noel Coward’s timeless ‘Blithe Spirit’

The cast and crew at the Red Curtain Arts Center do a fine job with the 1940s British play.

Stringed instruments get workout at Cascade Symphony concert

Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade for Strings” is the orchestra’s first concert of the season.

Animating Van Gogh paintings proves to be trippy yet flawed

“Loving Vincent” relates the circumstances of the great painter’s death.

Confusing, muddled thriller confounds talented director, cast

“The Snowman,” based on a Scandinavian crime novel, suffers from catastrophic storytelling problems.

‘Breathe’ ignores all the inspirational movie cliches

It tells the story of a polio patient and his wife who helped change attitudes about the disabled.

New Edmonds bakery showcases owner’s mastery of pastry

Desserts are the highlight at Ganache Patisserie and Cafe on Main Street near the theater.

What you’ll see Thursday night on Everett, Edmonds art walks

Third Thursday evenings in Everett and Edmonds offer chances for interesting strolls.… Continue reading

Fur & Feathers: 4 lovable dogs need homes

Meet Lola, Sadie, Scooter and Chance

Shrimp and grits, rendered healthful and Italian? We’re in.

This recipe features a sauce made with olive oil, tomatoes and herbs instead of cheese and cream.

Most Read