It was a cooking frenzy last weekend. I somehow managed to wrangle a full day off on Sunday and where do you think I spend most of my day? (bar the morning watching Max play football)- in the kitchen!
I know I cook for a living and spend a crazy amount of time around food every other day, but when I manage to have a spare few hours of peace and quiet I love to cook healthy and delicious meals for my family. Like any other parent I prefer the quick 30 minute meals on weeknights I mean let's face it, there is just too much going on to give the evening meal lots of attention when you've just come back from swimming, footy training or whatever else you have going on!
However, a spare weekend and I can think of nothing more fabulous than making yummy food and sitting down to eat a leisurely meal with a glass of wine and that is exactly what I did on Sunday evening!
I bought a tagine a few months ago. I have always wanted one but never got around to actually buying one for myself. I was given a clay pot a few years ago (that could be around ten years I'm thinking) and used it just like a tagine with wonderful results. However, the day it got smashed on the kitchen tiles was a very sad day indeed and also time for me to upgrade to a bigger version with a little more room as we didn't have kids when I was given the clay pot.
The fact that I can cook a whole meal in one dish is a total winner in my books. Right from searing the meat and sauteing the vegetables and finishing the dish off with slow cooking Israeli couscous (the nice big round balls).
Seeing as I photographed the cooking process I thought I'd explain as you looked....something new for me.
OK so I bought about a kilo of diced lamb from my butcher and seasoned the meat with salt and pepper before I began searing the meat. Once the tagine was hot I did the meat in 3 batches to make sure I got good colouring and did not to stew the meat.
Once the meat is all seared I then added chopped veggies but to my surprise (I simply forgot to cut them) I didn't have any onion? I decided to proceed without it. I sauteed off about a cup of diced eggplant, diced green capsicum, bunch of Tuscan cabbage which they have at Harris Farm, 3 large smashed garlic cloves and last but not least a whole lemon cut in half, squeezed and then left in the dish.
When I could smell the aroma of the vegetables, I tossed the seared lamb pieces back into the tagine and stirred it around. I then added a large fresh tomato, diced and a good splash of white wine.
The juices of the meat were also added so there were a lot of yummy flavours that needed to be slowly cooked. This is when I brought it to the boil, skimmed the top of the braise, put the lid on and placed it on a smaller burner, turned the gas down to low and forgot about it for a bit over an hour. (This is when I snuck off to my room with a tim tam, cuppa tea and my book!)
After about an hour maybe even an hour and a half lift the lid and test the meat. If it is feeling like it is almost pulling apart but not quite then it's time to add your couscous. Sprinkle about 3/4 cup over the lamb then gently fold through and place the lid back on and leave it alone again for twenty minutes.
Once the couscous absorbs the excess liquid, turn off the heat and stir once then place the lid back on and leave it to rest for 5 minutes. You may need to add about 1/2 cup of extra water if you like it a little wetter but it is up to your tastes....I added the water!
The boys ate there's as is and loved it, however, for Nic and I, I added fresh coriander and chili flakes which married beautifully with the rich flavours of the tagine.
So if you'd like to learn how to make this dish along with say some pita bread, and a few extra yummy and healthy dishes maybe you should pop on over to my website camillabaker, book a class and meet me in the kitchen!