I had been wanting to make a Moroccan spice-based stew with dried fruits for a while. I figured that the holidays were a great time because a lot of the spices are commonly used this time of year plus I had a bunch of dried fruit left from making sugar plums. I have no real experience or expertise with Moroccan food, but I have been reading about it recently. In the past I've made a Moroccan stewed chicken dish and a butternut squash Moroccan stew. I always love the spice combination in Moroccan recipes...cinnamon, coriander, saffron, ginger... In my mind, any savory dish that contains cinnamon has an exotic feel that I love. I have never been to a Moroccan restaurant or to Morocco, so the only Moroccan food I've ever had are these creations. I plan to get a cookbook soon so I can learn more about this cuisine because I am really enjoying what I've learned thus far.
I made this stew in a Dutch oven, but if you are lucky enough to own a tagine by all means use that. I used beef, but lamb would also work nicely. Serve this stew over some couscous or even some long grain rice. It will serve about four people.
Moroccan stewed beef with prunes and apricots
about 1 lb. cubed stew beef (preferably grass-fed and organic)
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1-1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
beef stock and water (about 1 to 1-1/2 cups of each)
pinch of saffron
about 1 cup dried pitted prunes
about 1 cup dried unsulphured apricots
1 tablespoon honey
1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup lightly toasted slivered almonds
minced fresh mint and/or cilantro, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Sprinkle the beef with some salt, pepper, and the flour. Toss to coat. Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the olive oil. When hot, add the beef. Brown the beef on all sides. Remove the beef and set aside on a plate.
Add the onions and garlic to the Dutch oven. Cook for about 1-2 minutes, stirring often. Add a pinch of salt and the ginger, coriander, cayenne, and cinnamon sticks. Stir and cook until the onions become soft. Return the beef to the pot. Add equal parts of beef stock and water until the beef is just covered. Stir to de-glaze. Let the mixture come to a boil. Add the saffron and stir well. Reduce heat to simmer. Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the oven for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
Remove from the oven and add the prunes, apricots, honey, and chickpeas. Return to the oven, uncovered, and let cook another 30 minutes or until the sauce reduces slightly and the fruit has plumped up. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
Top the stew with the almonds and mint/cilantro. Remove cinnamon sticks. Serve over couscous or rice.
What was I cooking one year ago?: sausage gravy
Two years ago?: New Year's Day lentil soup with mint