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Thursday, July 1, 2010

The cast iron tagine

This is a tagine. It's a "slow cooker" that originated in North Africa, usually made from ceramic or clay.

The cone shaped top allows steam to circulate and condense. This braises, bastes, and slowly simmers the food, with minimal liquid*. The top of the cone appears open, but it's not.

*Since water in the Sahara region is scarce, this method became necessary.

This model, by Le Creuset, has an enameled cast iron base, and a ceramic top. Unfortunately, it's the only cast iron tagine available, and expensive. Oh no, I don't have one!

But fortunately, a dutch oven cooks in much the same way; Any recipe meant for the tagine, can be cooked in a dutch oven with similar results*.

*Consumers report that if you're not using a tagine, the meat needs to be browned in the pot before adding other ingredients.

So, with your dutch oven, you can enjoy Moroccan cuisine without breaking the bank.

This was my first attempt, a modified random recipe that looked good to me:

Heat olive oil in a cast iron pot. Add chopped onions, minced garlic, and chicken breast cut in strips. Cook until chicken is browned.

Add the spices: cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika, black pepper, cinnamon, chili powder.

Add prunes, golden raisins, walnuts, fresh cilantro, and a little chicken broth.

Stir, reduce heat, cover, simmer for a couple of hours. Serve over rice.

I don't know if this is authentic Moroccan food or not, but it sure was good!

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