Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Moroccan Beef Tagine

Moroccan Beef Tagine

Carrots, peas, and cauliflower liven up this classic

Think beef stew is boring? Meet Moroccan Beef Tagine.

It has cinnamon, cumin, paprika, cayenne – and they all come out to play. They give this dish savor unlike any other beef braise you’ve had. And we pump ours up even more with frisky veggies.

Prepare to wow your guests.



Moroccan Beef Tagine

Recipe: Moroccan Beef Tagine

Many countries have some sort of stew or braise that is traditional to their cuisine. In Morocco, it’s tagine (AKA tajine), which is the name of both the stew-like dish and the conical-shaped vessel used to cook it.

But tagine is easy to make in your own kitchen, and you don’t need a special cooking dish. Just think of it as beef stew with a flavor twist, and cook it in a Dutch oven.

You can make this recipe with any vegetable, BTW, not just the ones we use. Or skip the veggies entirely if you want a meat-centric dish.

Traditionally, the sauce for a tagine is not thickened. Tagine is a communal dish, one where everyone eats from a common serving platter rather than individual plates. Diners use fingers rather than utensils. Typically, they start by dipping bread into the sauce and sopping it up, waiting for the meat and veggies to cool enough so they won’t burn their fingers. Once the sauce is gone, diners proceed to the main event.

But we’re serving individual portions on plates, so we’ve elected to thicken the sauce. And instead of relying on bread to sop it up, we like to serve it over mashed potatoes. Or especially over Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes – the spices in the tagine work perfectly with the richness of sweet potatoes. This dish would also work well over Polenta.

This recipe is adapted from one we found in our favorite Moroccan cookbook, Paula Wolfert’s Couscous and Other Good Foods from Morocco. The original book has been out of print for a while, but a revised edition is available.

Prep time for this dish is about 30 minutes, and cooking time adds another 1½ to 2 hours (largely unattended). You can make this dish a day or two ahead of time, then finish it off the day you plan to serve it.

This dish serves 6 to 8. Leftovers keep well for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container.

Ingredients
  • 2½ to 3 pounds beef chuck (or shoulder, short ribs, or other cut of your choice)
  • salt for seasoning the meat (about a teaspoon; to taste)
  • freshly ground black pepper for seasoning the meat (a few grinds; to taste)
  • ¼ cup oil for browning the meat (more if needed; we use olive oil)
  • 1 onion (medium or large)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ~½ pound carrots
  • additional salt to taste (a teaspoon or two of kosher salt; see Notes)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups beef broth (may substitute chicken broth or water)
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • a handful or two of frozen peas
  • ~2 tablespoons of corn starch mixed with ½ cup cold water (optional)
  • ¼ cup parsley and/or cilantro for garnish (optional)
Procedure
  1. Cut the meat into chunks of whatever size you prefer (we often use larger chunks – about 2 by 4 inches). Pat the meat chunks dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium stovetop heat. When hot, add the oil. Brown the meat on each side – it’ll take 5 to 8 minutes to brown each side. Don’t crowd the pan (do this in batches if necessary). When the meat is browned, drain it on a paper-towel covered plate.
  3. While the meat is browning, peel the onion and cut it into dice of ½ inch or a bit less. Set aside.
  4. Peel the garlic and slice it thinly or mince finely. Set aside.
  5. Scrub the carrots and peel them. Cut off the tips. Cut the carrots into pieces of about 3 inches (if the carrots are particularly thick, cut them in half lengthwise first). Set aside.
  6. When all the meat is browned, add more oil to the Dutch oven if necessary. Add the chopped onion, season to taste with salt, and sauté for 5 minutes. Then add the chopped garlic and carrots, and brown another 3 minutes.
  7. Add the browned meat back to the cooking pot. Add the spices (turmeric, cayenne, paprika, ground ginger, cumin, and cinnamon), along with the broth and the diced tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then taste and adjust the salt if necessary. Set a timer for 1½ hours.
  8. Meanwhile, wash and dry the cauliflower. Cut the cauliflower in half, core it, and separate it into flowerets. Set aside. (You may roast the cauliflower at this point if you wish; see Notes.)
  9. When the timer goes off, test the meat (it should be almost done). Add the cauliflower, cover the cooking pot, and set the timer for 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, add the peas, and cook until all the veggies are done (another 10 minutes).
  10. If you want to thicken the sauce: While the veggies are cooking, mix the cornstarch with cold water. 
  11. Wash and dry the parsley and/or cilantro, and mince it finely.
  12. When the tagine is finished, remove from it from the heat and stir in the cornstarch mixture (if using).
  13. Spoon mashed potatoes onto serving plates (or use another starch, such as Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes). Spoon beef tagine over the potatoes, arranging pieces of meat and veggies artistically. Then ladle on some sauce. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and/or cilantro garnish (if using).
  14. Serve and enjoy.
Moroccan Beef Tagine

Notes
  • We usually make this dish with boneless chuck or shoulder roast. In Morocco, cooks typically use bone-in cuts. If you want to go that route, try short ribs.
  • If you want to make this dish ahead of time, we recommend cooking it for 1½ hours (through Step 7). Let it cool, then refrigerate the dish until ready to continue. Resume with Step 8 when you’re ready to serve the dish.
  • We sometimes squeeze a bit of lemon juice over each dish right before serving. It adds a nice acidic touch.
  • We often use Roast Cauliflower in this dish (instead of cooking cauliflower with the meat; and in fact that’s how we made it for this post). If you’d like to do this, simply follow our recipe for roasting cauliflower, then add it to the tagine right before serving. 
  • We like to cook carrots with the tagine because they help flavor the sauce. We add the rest of the veggies near the end.
  • Prefer to substitute other veggies? Try zucchini, turnips, or Jerusalem artichokes instead of cauliflower and peas.
  • This dish is spicy, but not hot (in fact, many Moroccan dishes are not particularly hot). Increase the cayenne pepper if you want more fire.
  • We use kosher salt for cooking. It has larger crystals than regular table salt, making it  less salty by volume. If using regular table salt, start with about half the amount we recommend. But always season to your taste, not ours.
  • Traditionally, tagine is cooked in an earthenware, cone-shaped vessel (also called a tagine). The vessel has two pieces. The bottom is a shallow circular base that holds all the ingredients. The top is a cone-shaped lid – the shape helps return the condensation that’s caused by the cooking process to the bottom of the dish. A Dutch oven or similar cooking pot works equally well, however.
  • A Moroccan host would bring the bottom part of the tagine vessel to the table (it doubles as a serving dish). Guests reach into the dish, using the fingers of their right hands to eat.
  • Messy business! But at a Moroccan dinner, it’s common to have a hand-washing ceremony at the beginning and end of each meal.

Moroccan Beef Tagine

Stick a Fork in It

“This tagine is beautiful over chipotle mashed sweet potatoes,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “And we even get to use forks.”

“Which is good,” I said. “Because I don’t like to burn my fingers.”

“Less sauce down the chin, too,” said Mrs K R. “So no turmeric stains on your shirt.”

“And no greasy fingers dropping beef chunks in my lap,” I said.

“Bottom line,” said Mrs K R. “We like plates. And silverware.”

Truth. Even though Moroccans might dismiss it as forked up.

You may also enjoy reading about:
Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Polenta
Roast Cauliflower
Moroccan Kefta and Tomato Tagine
Boeuf Bourguignon
Couscous with Dried Fruit
Moroccan Carrot Soup
Or check out the index for more

80 comments:

  1. Hahaha! I like plates and silverware too :). Although I might not mind digging into this deliciousness with my hands. It looks fabulous!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kelsie, plates and silverware are GOOD! :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  2. The aroma in the kitchen has to be phenomenal while this is cooking away!! And I'm with you on needing silverware to eat this, though I would love some bread dipped in that sauce!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Liz, bread dipped in the sauce is a good thing -- in fact the sauce may be the best part of the dish. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  3. That looks beautiful and I know it tastes as good as it looks because I have made something very similar and it is delicious. I love all the flavors mingling together. Thanks :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Pat, this dish has a really nice flavor profile! Good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  4. This sounds amazing John. I haven’t used my raging in ages. I’d love to try your recipe using short ribs and chipotle mashed sweet potatoes. It sounds heavenly no think I’ll give it a try this week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Vicki, the chipotle mashed sweet potatoes are wonderful with this! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  5. I really like the idea of serving the tagine over the chipotle mashed sweet potatoes...a nice complement of flavors.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Karen, the flavor really work well together. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  6. Good Grief John! That looks fabulous! And I'm also interested in those sweet potatoes. It all sounds really really good. Pinning

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lea Ann, the sweet potatoes are winners! As is the tagine. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  7. I am loving all the spiced dishes lately. This looks so hearty and comforting while still being pretty healthy. Love it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Laura, we've been playing with our spice cabinet lately. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  8. This is pure heaven, looks and sounds so delicious. The smells would be divine. And yes, some silverware would be good or crusty bread, yum !!
    xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Asha, the aroma of this is really enticing. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  9. Thank you for sharing this amazing stew! I love all the spices and the story behind the dish. Sounds like something my family could dig into!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Tricia, bet your family would love this! :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  10. LOVE tagine, more than couscous. Your beef tagine looks delicious...interesting about the mashed potatoes choice!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Evelyne, I've had both tagine and couscous numerous times, and much prefer a tagine. A more interesting dish, IMO. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  11. This looks like such a hearty meal. I think this would be nice paired with some rice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Peachy, I've never served this with rice, but that's a terrific idea! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  12. All those spices must make this dish phenomenal . I like the mashed potatoes and some silverware.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Gerlinde, the flavor of this is outstanding. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  13. Great recipe. I love tagines. So pretty and the food in them is too! Perfect fall fare, preferably with that fork!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Abbe, tagines are terrific fall fare! So nice and warming. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  14. I don't think I've ever had anything like this. Haven't eaten much Moraccan. This does look awesome but what really took me over the edge was that you served it all on top of a bowl of mashed potatoes! WHOA!!!! I'm there! Thanks for introducing me to a new dish John!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi MJ, we like to serve everything on top of mashed potatoes. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  15. I wish I could cook half as good as you, John. I adore Moroccan spice and this must have tasted marvelous!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Angie, Moroccan spices are wonderful, aren't they? And this dish is terrific! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  16. I love stews in the cooler months and a spicy tagine is the only way to go. I love the ease, the flavors, that warming comfort food feeling - fabulous dish!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Robyn, this is pure comfort! :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  17. Looks and sounds mouthwatering! Love the flavors.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lydia, the flavors of this are SO GOOD! One of those dishes that will haunt you. (Appropriate for the season, huh?) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  18. Mmm, the tender beef and warm spices ... I can almost taste it! It's supposed to snow here in CO today--this is a perfect recipe for such a day. Well done, John.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Judy, this is wonderful snowy weather fare! Enjoy. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  19. I love love love love love the looks of this! LOVE IT! I have definitely wanted to try TAGINE for a very long time and this recipe right here is giving me that opportunity! I need to buy ingredients for another recipe today so I may very well just pick up some for this one too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi GiGi, tagines are wonderful! Love the way they're flavored. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  20. I ate in an Ethiopian restaurant last night. They prefer to eat with fingers only too. It was actually quite fun and very social. However, nothing we ate was quite this dribbly. So I'd choose utensils for your plateful. Besides who would want to waste even a drop of that sauce? GREG

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Greg, Ethiopian food is wonderful, isn't it? Never cooked any -- should try sometime. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  21. So many great flavors in this dish... it looks great John!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Pam, it's a good one! :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  22. Love everything about this dish and the combo of spices you used are some of my favorites. Bet your kitchen smelled magical, happy fall!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Cheri, the aroma of this cooking id drool-worthy. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  23. Exploring Moroccan flavors is really a great thing to do, and I'm very tempted to try your adaptation. My efforts to use those spices have all been quite delicious, and this would be another promising experiment. Quite a few Moroccan dishes include sweet potatoes, as far as I know, though the recipes I've seen use them right in the stew pot.

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mae, you're right -- sweet potatoes are in a lot of Moroccan dishes, including beef tagines. We like to serve the tagine over the sweet potatoes, though -- that way we get the flavor, and use the potatoes as a starch to soak up some of the sauce. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  24. John, this is the prettiest thing I've seen all week! I need to make this soon. When I first looked at the picture, I was thinking I'd serve this over polenta. But then you said sweet potatoes, and YES, sweet potatoes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jean, the sweet potatoes are wonderful with this, although polenta is really nice too. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  25. Oh those flavors! All the warming spices of autumn hovering above creamy mashed potatoes, sublime.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Deb, those spices are dynamite! :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  26. I purchased tagine pot a few months back but I have yet to start using it. I guess it is going to be this tagine but with mutton :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Taruna, lamb/mutton tagines are actually more popular than beef ones in Morocco. Enjoy! :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  27. I went to Morocco some 27 years ago and I loved the local kitchen! This beef looks perfect!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Katerina, I lived in Morocco for a period back in the 1970's -- the food there is wonderful, isn't it? Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  28. John...Totally In love with this recipe, the flavors, spices and the SAUCE! We are doing the low carb thing and as much as the chipotle sweet potatoes sound amazing, the roasted cauliflower as a side would be lovely too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Bobbi, the flavor of the tagine and roast cauliflower work wonderfully well together. Really good stuff! :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  29. this looks amazing and I love that you are serving it with chipotle sweet mashed potatoes.. what an excellent combination!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Dahn, the tagine + sweet potatoes = wonderful flavor combo! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  30. This looks amazing!! I have been in a rut with my dinners lately, and this one looks like a winner!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Cathleen, it IS a winner! :D Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  31. Now this is my type of dish! look at that delicious sauce over that tender beef. Love this with couscous!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Raymund, the sauce is SO GOOD! :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  32. I really enjoy Moroccan food a lot and this recipe looks delicious and perfect for a cold evening.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Amy, isn't Moroccan food so good? Love the spices! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  33. Sitting here in my Canberra kitchen, sipping coffee... I almost want to grab a fork and dive right in to your sumptuous tagine. Lovely post. Gorgeous recipe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Liz, isn't this nice? SO flavorful! :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  34. I love, love Moroccan food and make it quite often! This looks delicious!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Katerina, Moroccan food is so nice, isn't it? Wonderful flavors! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  35. I would totally be into the silverware-less method. Especially the part where you soak up the sauce with bread. I could live on gravy and bread.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jeff, I have eaten this using my fingers -- and it's actually rather fun, But awfully messy! And it's always good to soak up sauce with bread, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  36. I love Moroccan food! And this hands down beats any other beef stew any day or night. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Carolyn, yup, this is good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  37. This tagine looks like such a delish and comfy meal. I am so much loving the spices you have used here. And those roasted cauliflowers are the perfect addition. I am sure it tastes as delicious as it looks. Thanks for a lovely recipe John.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anu, roast cauliflower really goes well with beef tagine! Nice combo of flavors. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  38. Sounds like a wonderful meal with so much flavor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Dawn, this has a TON of flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete

  39. What beautiful flavours, who ever knew good old chuck steak (My very favourite soft cut of beef) could look and taste so jolly good 8)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Merryn, braised dishes have so much flavor, don't they? Particularly with these spices! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  40. John, this looks OUTRAGEOUSLY delicious! I LOVE Moroccan flavors and spices. And serving it over those smoky sweet potatoes! Even better. No utensils or fingers for me. I'll just face plant! Thanks for sharing this beautiful recipe!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anne, well let it cool a bit before you plant your face. :D And the sweet potatoes are wonderful with this! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete