The delicious spicy cuisines of French colonial North Africa have left their mark on French cooking, which some of you know I’ve been exploring. This dish is traditionally prepared with lamb (d’Agneau), but tonight I will use venison since I have an abundance of it from a friend who hunts. Lamb stew meat should be easily available at most local markets so don’t break your neck looking for venison. The word “tagine” is the name for the conical-shaped pottery dish in which this delicious meal is usually cooked. I don’t have a tagine so I guess pots and pans have to do. 🙂 Despite the lengthy ingredient list and multiple steps, this dish is simple to make for the home cook so I encourage all to try this recipe. Dont be shy, leave feedback telling me if it worked for you. Bon Appetit! (special thanks to George Perkins for donating the protein for this dish)
1 1/3 cups dried chickpeas soaked in cold water overnight
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp powdered saffron or paprika
3 lbs of venison stew meat OR lamb shoulder trimmed of all fat cut into 2 inch pieces
2 medium onions coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 tomatoes peeled, seeded, and diced
2/3 cup golden raisins soaked in warm water
10-20 black olives (such as a kalamata)
2 preserved lemons or the grated rind of 1 lemon
6 tbsp fresh cilantro
salt and pepper
cous cous (to serve)
Drain the chickpeas, rinse under cold running water and place in a large pan, cover with water and boil vigorously for 10 minutes. Drain the chick peas and return to pan and cover with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1 -1 1/2 hrs until peas are tender. remove from heat and add about 1 tsp salt and set aside. In a large bowl, combine half of the oil (2 Tbsp) with the sugar, ginger, cumin, tumeric, saffron or paprika,pepper and about 1 tsp of salt. Now add your lamb or venison and toss well to coat all sides and allow to marinate for about 30 minutes.
In a large frying pan, heat the remaining 2 tbsp of oil over medium-high heat. Add enough lamb to cover the pan in one layer but do not overcrowd the pan. Cook for 4-5 minutes, turning the pieces to brown all sides, then transfer to a large casserole dish. Keep browning all the lamb in batches until all the lamb is cooked and in the casserole. You may find you have to add a little more olive oil between batches.
Add the onions to the pan and stir constantly until browned. Stir in garlic and tomatoes along with 1 cup of water, stirring and scraping the base of the pan. Pour this mixture into the casserole and add enough water to cover. Heat the casserole dish on the stove top, bringing the stew to a boil and skimming off any foam, then reduce and simmer for an hour.
Drain the chickpeas and add to the lamb with about 1 cup of the drained off liquid. Stir in the raisins and the liquid they soaked in, and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the olives and sliced preserved lemons or lemon rind and simmer for an additional 20-30 minutes, then add half the chopped cilantro.
About 30 minutes before serving, prepare the cous cous according to package instructions. Serve side by side or with the stew over a bed of cous cous, and garnish with the remaining cilantro.