MIDDLE EAST - JORDAN

SLOW-COOKED

BEEF TAGINE .

with Apricots, Olives, Butternut, & Harissa

I will be the first to admit a slight breach in geography – surely a tagine is originally from North Africa? Yes well, technically, that might be true. But, in this dish - a dish that we cooked up on a particularly cold, wet night in the capital Amman – you get a great example of just how permeable and transferable flavours and food cultures are across borders. So think of this more as a ‘semi-tagine’, a wandering recipe from a part of the world so interwoven and steeped in cross-cultural histories.

 

This dish draws upon the fluid culinary culture of the entire region; incorporating the flavours and ingredients so integral and abundant throughout the Arabic world. Go to any souk or food market in Jordan and you’ll be practically falling over great sacks of intoxicating spices, endless rows of seasonal vegetables and bag after bag of various nuts and dried fruits – all perfect ingredients to be thrown into one big pot and then cooked slowly until they all come together into one rich, spicy stew of goodness. To be honest, when something can taste this good, who really wants to get bogged down with geographical technicalities…

Serves 4

 

  • 600g STEWING BEEF

  • 500g PLAIN YOGHURT

  • 2 tsp HARISSA PASTE

  • ½ tsp DRIED CHILLI FLAKES

  • 1 tsp SMOKED PAPRIKA

  • ½ tsp CINNAMON

  • ½ tsp GROUND CUMIN

  • ½ thumb FRESH GINGER

  • 1 tsp dried MINT

  • zest 1 LEMON

 

  • OLIVE OIL

  • 1 medium RED ONION {roughly chopped}

  • 3 cloves GARLIC {finely grated}

  • 2 tsp TOMATO PASTE

  • 1 can chopped TOMATOES

  • 2 cups BEEF/CHICKEN stock

 

  • 1/2 medium BUTTERNUT SQUASH {1cm cubed}

  • 1 cup MIXED OLIVES {pitted}

  • 1 cup DRIED APRICOTS {roughly chopped}

 

  • 1 tsp RUNNY HONEY

  • 1 LEMON

  • SALT

  • BLACK PEPPER

  • large handful fresh CORIANDER

  • plain COUS-COUS 

The value of a good, and ideally long, marinade of the beef should not be overlooked. So, in a large mixing bowl put all of the beef, then in with half of the yoghurt, the harissa paste, all of the dried spices and herbs, the lemon zest and the ginger. Season well with salt and pepper and set aside in the fridge for as long as you can wait. For the meat to really take on all the lovely flavours they need some time together – a couple of hours in the fridge would work nicely, but leaving it overnight would be top – patience is key.   


Get yourself a large casserole pan (if you have a genuine tagine then certainly get fully involved with that), in go a couple glugs of olive oil and then over a medium heat it’s time to fry the marinated beef with the onion. Give this about 8 - 10 minutes. Then in with the garlic and the tomato paste. Fry for another minute. Next in with the chopped tomatoes and half of the stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer with a lid firmly on the pan for about 2 hours. Stir occasionally.       

Give everything a big stir and then in with all the butternut, olives and apricots. In goes the rest of the stock, and then place the lid on a little skew so that some steam can escape and the sauce can reduce right down to a dark, sticky gravy. Continue to simmer until the butternut is cooked through but retains a little bite.


Now for the final touches. Stir in the runny honey, check for seasoning, and then scatter over a generous handful of fresh coriander, and squeeze over half a lemon.      
Take the rest of the yoghurt and marble through 1 tsp harissa paste, lightly season and then squeeze over the other half of the lemon. Serve this yoghurt and harissa dressing as an accompaniment to dollop over the tagine alongside a simple, seasoned cous-cous. 

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