Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tag(ine)'re it

Ever since DB~ and I went to Kous Kous Cafe in Mt. Lebanon, I've been fascinated by tagines. The tagine is the popular cooking vessel in Moroccan cuisine that functions as both the place the food is cooked in and also the serving dish itself.

I've cruised around the Internets pricing them and hemming and hawing about buying a couple. I wondered how much I would really use them. I brokered a price for 2 at the Pittsburgh Public Market in the Strip a few months ago, but backed out when I got tagine cold feet.

My birthday was last month and sure enough The Squiggle got me 2 for my gift. She's good like that. We've been running around like madmen this past month with wedding stuff, selling my house, buying a new house, finalizing the honeymoon, so they have been patiently sitting in my basement waiting to be used.

That time was last night. I decided to go with a safe recipe, so to speak, from my tagine cookbook that DB~ also got me. It was a recipe similar to one that I had a Kous Kous Cafe when we went. It was a tomato based sauce with vegetables (in this case eggplant and yellow squash), onion, shallot, cilantro, and Moroccan-style seasonings like cumin and tumeric.

You place the tagine directly on the stove top. They are clay pots with holes at the top to allow heat to vent slightly. They can also be placed directly in the oven. Once the shallot and onion softened up in the tagine with some olive oil and butter, I added the seasonings, eggplant, squash, and canned tomatoes with their juice. I let this all cook with the lid closed for 40 minutes. After those 40 minutes, I added the fresh chopped cilantro and cooked that for 10 more minutes.

After placing a trivet down, we took the tagine directly to the table and spooned our portions out of it and on to the plates. I served couscous as a side dish, with a red pepper/feta dip and crackers as well.

I will absolutely be using the tagine more in the future, especially in the fall. I see a very hearty short rib with wine sauce and root vegetables being prepared in it. Some lamb and squash would be tasty too.

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