2 lbs tender beef or lamb, cut into 3″ pieces
2 medium onions, grated or very finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed
3/4 t salt
1 t pepper
1 t ginger
1/2 t saffron threads, crumbled
1/2 t turmeric
1 or 2, 3 – 4″ pieces of cinnamon stick
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c butter, softened
2 1/2 c water
handful of cilantro sprigs, tied together
1/2 lb prunes
1 T honey
2 T sugar
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 T toasted sesame seeds (opt)
handful of fried almonds (opt)
Pressure Cooker Method
In a bowl, mix meat with onions, garlic and spices. Heat the oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat and brown the meat for a few min until a crust forms. If using a pressure cooker, place the meat mix in the pressure cooker and add water and the cilantro. Over high heat, bring the meat and liquids to a simmer. Cover tightly and continue heating until pressure is achieved. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook with pressure for 45 – 50 min. (Note: About halfway through cooking, remove 1/2 c liquid and reserve.) After the meat has cooked, release the pressure and reduce the sauce, uncovered until it is mostly oil and onion.
Conventional Pot Method
Add meat mix to the pot along with water and cilantro. Cover and simmer the meat over medium heat for 2 – 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is very tender and breaks away easily from the bone. (Note: About halfway through cooking, remove 1/2 c liquid and reserve.) If necessary add a small amount of water during cooking to prevent the meat from scorching. When the meat has cooked, reduce the sauce until it is mostly oil and onions.
Clay or Ceramic Tagine Method
Slice one of the onions instead of grating it, and layer the onion rings on the bottom of the tagine. Mix meat with the grated onion, garlic, oil, butter and spices and place on the sliced onion. Add water, cover and place the tagine on a diffuser over medium heat. Allow the tagine to reach a simmer (this may take a long time), and then reduce the heat to the lowest temp necessary to maintain the simmer. Allow the tagine to cook for 3 hours or longer until the meat is very tender and the liquids are reduced. (Note: About 2 hours into the cooking, remove 1/2 c liquid and reserve.)
Cook the Prunes
While the meat is cooking, put the prunes in a small pot and cover with water. Simmer over medium heat, partially covered until the prunes are tender enough to easily pinch off the pit or pinch in half. (The amount of time this takes can vary greatly depending on the prunes, but the average is 15 – 30 min.) Drain prunes, then add the 1/2 c reserved liquid from the meat. Stir in the honey, sugar and cinnamon and simmer the prunes for another 5 – 10 min or until they are sitting in a thick syrup.
Arrange meat on a large serving platter and spoon the prunes and syrup on top. If you’ve cooked in a tagine, it doubles as a serving dish. If desired, garnish with sesame seeds and/or fried almonds. Moroccan tradition is to gather around the table and eat from this communal plate, using Moroccan bread to scoop up the meat and sauce.