Ok, so this isn’t a real tagine because, well, I didn’t make it in a tagine. I used the word in the title because it’s so evocative of the flavors and cuisine I was trying to cook tonight. I do really want a tagine one of these days, along with all sorts of other cool kitchen items I currently don’t have (I’m looking at you molcajete, fancy chopsticks, wok, Chinese soup spoons…) Using a dutch oven is a reasonable approximation, so that’s what we went with today.
We both love the flavors of the greater Middle East/Northern Africa. You may have noticed that if you’ve read more of our blog than just this post via Pinterest. I would venture a guess that dishes from that part of the world make up the highest percentage of our blog, as compared to other regions. Check out some of our other creations… they range from main dishes like Bahraini Chicken Machboos or Syrian Mini Meatballs (Dawood Basha) to Spinach & Feta Gözleme, to some of Ally’s beloved soups like Persian Spiced Lentil Soup or North African Wedding Soup, to delicious snacks like Muhammara and Spicy Feta Dip, and even Baklava! So many amazing and varied dishes! The flavors here tonight are incredibly similar to our Tangy Moroccan Meatballs, which is one of Ally’s favorite meals we’ve ever made and shared on this blog. The main differences between the two are the addition of the chickpeas tonight, which allows the dish to easily stand alone without the addition of another starch, and the obvious fact that last time we made meatballs, while this time we braised some tender lamb chunks. It’s also a bit spicier and a bit less tangy than the meatball dish. Some variety is good! Last note – this, like many other braised/stewed dishes is SO much better the longer you let it sit. Yay leftovers!
Lamb & Chickpea ‘Tagine’
(Inspired by our previous recipe for Tangy Moroccan Meatballs and some additional internet browsing)
- ~2 lb boneless lamb (shoulder, boneless leg), cubed
- Salt & pepper
- 2 tbsp neutral oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 large carrots, sliced
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 medium tomato, chopped
- 1 generous pinch of saffron threads
- 1 1/2 cups beef stock (or lamb if you have access to it)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 cup kalamata olives, halved
- 1 can (16oz) chickpeas, rinsed & drained
- Fresh cilantro
- Season all sides of the cubed meat generously with salt & pepper.
- Using a tagine if you have one, or a dutch oven if not (like us), heat the oil over medium heat on the stove top. Once hot, brown the meat on all sides and then remove to the side.
- Maintaining medium heat, add the onions, garlic, and carrots to the dish. Cook for ~5 minutes, until softened and becoming fragrant.
- Now stir in the tomato paste, tomato, and all of the spices except for the saffron. Cook for just a minute or two, stirring everything together.
- Now return the meat to the dish, along with the stock, lemon juice, and olives. Adjust the heat to bring to a light simmer with the lid on.
- Cook at that light simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the meat is nice and tender.
- Remove the lid and increase heat to a more vigorous simmer. Add the chickpeas at this point. Cook for an additional 6-8 minutes with the lid off.
- Taste and add additional salt if desired (we added maybe a 1/2 tsp).
- Serve topped with torn cilantro and an extra squeeze of lemon if you’d like. Eat as a stew alone, though you could also put it atop couscous or rice.
My sister and I share a love of all things carbs, with a special place in our hearts for mac and cheese of any variety. Awhile back, I found a cookbook solely devoted to mac and cheese and gave it to her for her birthday or Christmas or something. (Which is not as good as a present she once gave me – it was an orange t-shirt with two cartoon cows dancing on it, with the words “I LOVE CARBS!”)
The recipe we’re sharing today originated with that mac & cheese cookbook. I made my sister send me screenshots from several options in the cookbook and settled on this one. We were very happy with our selection. Despite retaining the cheesiness of a standard mac & cheese, this feels slightly lighter. I mean, it’s certainly not low calorie, but the tanginess of the goat cheese just gives you a different sensation. I love goat cheese in any form, so definitely enjoyed this! I went light on the panko crust which worked for us. My only complaint at the end was that the finished product looked a little monotone in my pictures – so not really an actual problem!
We had this dish this weekend when our favorite Georgians came to visit us in Virginia! We had a great weekend, with some delicious food, a few roaring fires, some trap shooting, some wandering in the woods, and a fun day of Virginia wine/beer/cider tasting with stops at King Family Vineyards, Blue Mountain Brewery, Bold Rock Cider, and Devil’s Backbone Brewing! And, of course, we enjoyed visiting with our friends! They all approved of this recipe, so hopefully you will too!
- 3 cups milk
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup AP flour
- 5 cups small pasta (penne, farfalle, elbows, whatever)
- 1 large shallot, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 12 oz goat cheese
- 4 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup + Panko bread crumbs
- Pre-heat the oven 400 degrees.
- Heat the milk in a small saucepan over low heat until very lightly simmering. Meanwhile, bring a large pot over water to a boil.
- Once the large pot of water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente.
- In another saucepan, melt the butter over low-medium heat. When the butter has melted, begin to slowly whisk in the flour. When the flour is absorbed, remove the pan from the heat.
- Slowly whisk all of the milk into the mixture. (It will initially get incredibly thick, then begin to thin out.)
- When all of the milk has been added, return the pot to medium heat and whisk continuously for ~3 minutes.
- Now add the garlic, shallots, both cheeses, and salt to the pan and lower the heat to low-medium. Stir frequently until the cheeses are well-incorporated.
- Finally, add the pasta to the sauce and stir until all of the noodles are coated and distributed equally.
- Pour all of this into a rectangular glass baking dish. Top with panko crumbs. We only used a light coating, ~1/4 cup, but feel free to make a thicker layer if desired.
- Bake for ~10 minutes. Serve when hot and bubbly, and when the panko is lightly toasted.
We’re baaaaack! Very sorry for the lack of recipes for the past few months! The dates of our blog absence directly correlate with the first and early second trimester of Ally’s pregnancy with our first child!! While this is spectacular news, our blog did suffer for awhile there. Ally has been fairly sick for the first trimester and generally hated everything about food for a few months there. For awhile, she wouldn’t eat any of the following: meat, seafood, “sweet things,” “heavy things,” or pretty much anything you might think of to make for dinner. So honestly, there wasn’t really a whole lot to blog about for a good length of time! (Unless you’re really interested in meals consisting of Cheez-its and pickles – you just let us know next time! 😉) Thankfully, all of this is starting to improve greatly, though she still randomly will refuse certain foods out of the blue, and we still haven’t made it back to seafood yet!
But don’t you worry – we have an amazing recipe to share today for our welcome back. Last spring we shared Prosciutto & Basil Topped Lemon Ricotta Pappardelle and a rave about the blog where we found the recipe inspiration. Well tonight’s source recipe comes from the same place – truly I think this is my favorite food blog and one I keep returning to again and again. The original recipe is here – our main change was to double the meat and triple the sauce, to make it more appropriate for the five diners we had for this meal. I highly recommend utilizing the sauce to meat ratio we’ve created here, not because I think our idea was superior, but because the sauce is SO DELICIOUS. I was licking the plate. Literally. Not joking. [Pregnant women are allowed to do that. It’s a law.]
Maple & Mustard Pork with Shallots
- 2 pork tenderloins (~2 lbs)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- 6 large shallots, peeled & quartered
- 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/3 cup brown mustard
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Trim any silverskin off the tenderloins (if need be) and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper on all sides.
- Heat oil on medium-high in an oven safe dish like a dutch oven. Once the oil is hot, place the tenderloins in the dish and sear on all sides until lightly browned (2 or 3 minutes per side).
- Toss the quartered shallots in around the meat.
- Whisk together the remaining ingredients for the sauce and pour over top the meat and shallots.
- Move the pan to the oven on the medium rack. Cook for 25-30 minutes, until a meat thermometer registers 150 degrees.
- At this point, remove the pork from the pan and tent with aluminum foil. Set the shallots aside as well.
- Return the pan to the stove top over medium-high heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced and thickened. This may take an additional 15+ minutes.
- Season the sauce with additional salt and pepper if desired.
- Serve the pork sliced, surrounded by the shallots, and topped with the sauce.