This is a great dish that feeds many and can replace your traditional Sunday roast. It’s easy enough to prepare in the morning and leave slow cooking until you’re ready to serve. If you have a traditional tagine dish, it always looks lovely and authentic to serve at the table (a casserole dish also works just as well) and will always please with the meltingly soft, slow cooked lamb and the sweetness of the dates and apricots. Serve alongside a mezze selection of breads and dips.
Approx. 1.2kg Lamb shoulder, trimmed
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp ras el hanout spice mix
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 brown onions, diced
2 carrots, finely diced
1 red chilli, finely diced
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 cans of whole plum tomatoes
100g dates, pitted and roughly chopped
100g dried apricots, halved
150ml red wine
600ml lamb or beef stock
1 lemon, zest and juice of
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
50g flaked almonds, toasted
Options to serve:
Giant cous cous
Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan. Trim the lamb of any excess fat and sinew and cut into 5cm chunks. Leave covered at room temperature for 30 mins before cooking.
In a deep casserole dish or tagine, melt a knob of butter and a little oil and sweat the onions and carrot over a gentle heat for 10 minutes until softened but so the onions have not taken on colour.
Turn up the heat and add the dried spices, tomato puree, chilli and garlic and fry for 2 minutes. Take the tagine off the heat.
In a separate shallow frying pan, heat 2tbsp of oil until very hot but not smoking and cook the lamb chunks. You may need to do this in batches so they brown evenly without steaming. Turn occasionally to caramelise slightly on the outside. You may need to drain off any excess fat released between the batches. When the lamb chunks have browned all over, place them in the casserole dish over the vegetable base.
While the heat is still high, add the wine to the pan and scrape off any sediment you can. Let the wine come up to boil for 2 mins, to evaporate off the alcohol and then pour in the tagine all over the lamb.
Pour the stock over the lamb, the chopped tomatoes and their juices, apricots, and dates. Use a potato masher to break up the whole tomatoes into smaller pieces. Place the whole dish back over the heat and bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer gently.
Place a tight-fitting lid over the tagine and transfer to the oven to roast for 3-4 hours until the lamb is really soft and tender. Check by taking out a piece of lamb and you should be able to easily pull it apart with just a spoon.
When the lamb is cooked, strain the tagine liquid through a fine sieve into a deep saucepan, holding back the lamb and vegetables. Place the saucepan on a high heat to reduce and thicken slightly to your desired consistency. Carefully remove any excess fat juices with a ladle, that might be sitting on the surface.
When the liquid has reduced by roughly 1/4, add the lamb and vegetables back in. Taste and season generously with salt and pepper. When you're ready to serve, add the lemon juice and zest. Finish with a sprinkling of the chopped parsley, flaked almonds and pomegranate seeds. Serve alongside some giant couscous, pitta bread and tzatziki.