Is there a better ‘leftover roast’ than lamb? I can’t think of another meat which keeps its flavour and texture so well and can even keep on giving the second time around. For me there are two options: a slow cooked stew or crisp up the fat to give some crunch. That fat is the secret either way: it somehow protects the meat from being cooked to death. Somehow, after carving the Sunday roast, there are still plenty of tasty pieces to pick off the bones that didn’t seem obvious first time around. All those bits and pieces add up to enough for plates of food 18-20 from my Kenilworth Free Range half a lamb.
I love tagine because it can head off in lots of different directions from the same starting point. I am not a great fan of the tagine pot itself. I’ve seen people bringing them home from holiday and never been tempted. Great for presentation but I’m not convinced they offer anything that a tightly sealed casserole won’t do.
I use some roughly chopped onion and garlic as a base and add some cinnamon, finely chopped red chilli, cardamom, paprika, lemon rind, and cumin. I also add thinly sliced carrot to add some texture but also some base sweetness which is one of the characteristics for me. This gets the aromatic base off to a good start. I cook these through a little in a combination of butter and olive oil. I want to soften not to brown. I add some large red deseeded and chopped tomatoes which I hope will go a little pulpy and thicken the sauce in the end. I chop the remaining lamb roughly and add to the casserole with some seasoning and then just add water and a pinch of steeped saffron. Saffron is one of the key flavours which adds a lovely warmth.
I then put the lid on and just let it cook slowly on the hob for around an hour. Any tendon form the lamb which comes from trimming close to the bone will dissolve and just add to the sauce. I then add a tablespoon of honey, some pomegranate syrup and lemon juice to add some sourness and let it thicken up by reducing with the lid off for a while. I also experiment by adding some golden berries to the mix. I’ve always had some dried fruit added and this seems a likely candidate. They are dried physalis or cape gooseberries and they have a nice tartness which I think will go well. This is where the choice of pan is important. It won’t reduce as easily in a saucepan as a wide casserole.
I serve it with a couscous. I just lightly fry finely chopped red onion and add some more chopped tomato flesh before adding the couscous, some boiling water and put the lid on the pan off the heat. It just steams through while I finish off the tagine.
All that’s left to do is add some pomegranate seeds to the couscous and some chopped coriander and or mint to the tagine, if I had either.
In the time available and with the ingredients to hand it’s not the richest or deepest tagine flavour but it is fragrant with a nice balance of sweet and sour and I love the crunch of the pomegranate.