Sunday, March 25, 2012

Braised Beef in Tajine with Pumpkin, Prunes and Almonds

Perhaps I should rename my blog slogan, "Quick Tajine Recipes For People On the Go".  I've developed an attachment to my Tajine that I can't seem to not have a weekend go by without using it.

I'm amazed how ceramic and clay pots can turn simple recipes into succulent meals.  As I mentioned in previous posts, the cone-shaped dome takes cooking to a whole new level. Need I admit that I was very reluctant to use it the first time I received it.  Like any other new kitchen tools, the Tajine is one that took me a bit of time to understand how to use it carefully. If you have a Tajine with a heavy cast-iron bottom that can be heated on a cooking stove to a high temperaturelike the one I have, you'll be able to brown your meats and vegetables before cooking.  On the other hand, if you have one with a base unit made of heavy clay, you'll need to be more careful when cooking with it by browning your food in a regular pan first, then slow cooking it on low heat in the oven.  The results would be the same as using a Tajine with a cast-iron bottom, but the cooking time would be doubled.
It really is all about a personal choice.  Having a busy schedule, it's best to opt for a Tajine with a cast-iron base.   You'll be able to use it just like a regular pan and cook your foods before simmering your meal in the oven, which would take 15-20 minutes at most.

For this braised beef recipe, I cut the beef in small cubes so as to accelerate the cooking process of the meat.   The prunes gave the meat a sweet flavour, while the other spices gave it a savoury taste.

That being said, if you love food cooked in clay pots, a Tajine is worth the investment. 

Preparation time : 10 minutes, Cooking time : 25-30 minutes

Recipe "au pif":
1 lb rib-eye steak, cut in 2 inch pieces
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/4 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
a pinch of saffron
1 1/4 cup chicken stock
1 large winter squash, or 2 cups of pumpkin diced 1 inch chunks (I used a carnival squash)
6 prunes, pitted
1 orange peel
handful of fresh coriander to garnish, coarsely chopped
roasted slivered almonds to garnish (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven at 350F

Heat oil in the tajine base and stir in the onions, garlic, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cinnamon and saffron for about 2 minutes or until the until have softened a little

Gently add the beef and stir until all sides are lightly browned

Slowly pour in the chicken stock and lower the heat the medium, cover with Tajine lid (dome), and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the squash or pumpkin by carefully peeling and dicing it.

Remove dome and add in the diced squash, the orange peel and the prunes.

Put the lid back on and carefully place the tajine in the oven to bake for about 15-20 minutes.

Spices should slowly infuse in the beef and squash or pumpkin giving the dish incredible flavour.

When done, remove from the oven, slowly remove the lid and sprinkle the coriander and almonds.

Serve with coucous, rice or a side dish of vegetables.

Serves 4 people (or 2 very hungry people, that would be us!)

If you do try this recipe, please do let me know how you liked it.

Share and enjoy!

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