Back in January, we took a trip to Baha Mar to celebrate my 50th Birthday! We had a fabulous time and enjoyed some amazing food. One of my favorite meals from that trip was a Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Apricots we were served at Cleo. Since then, I have been yearning to try and recreate this dish at home. First things first, I found this handcrafted vessel from Amazon. Not only can I cook in it, but I display this beautiful piece on my dining room table when not in use.
Are you on TikTok? If so, check out this short video I made creating this dish by clicking here. Give me a follow, please!
I am not going to lie, I was super intimated to even attempt making this dish. I did some research and found that this particular tagine should not be placed in the oven. Given that, I would need a heat diffuser, as well. Additionally, some clay pots need to either be seasoned, and/or soaked. Mine came seasoned, but I did have to immerse the entire pot in water for about two hours prior to the first use.
FLAVOR PROFILE FOR MOROCCAN LAMB TAGINE WITH APRICOTS
Next, I thought about the flavors and ingredients. See, I grew up on lamb and there was no doubt it would be the star of the show. I decided on lamb shoulder, as the leg can be a bit more “gamey.” Lamb chops or shanks would also work very well. Feel free to experiment with other proteins. Chicken, pork or beef would be great substitutes.
Sweet, savory and spicy is my jam. So, this dish was a perfect combination of the three. If you are not into that much spice, cut down the amount of chiles in the chermoula.
Lastly, this dish calls for patience. Slow cooking is the key to not only develop amazing flavor, but to ensure that each and every bite of lamb will be super tender, and juicy. Plan on about three hours from prep to plate! This dish will serve three to four people.
PREPPING THE LAMB
In order to obtain a perfect sear on the lamb, be sure to allow it to come to room temperature. I do this with most of my proteins (with the exception of chicken). Cut the lamb into bite-sized (1″ to 1 1/2″) cubes. Season generously with kosher salt and black pepper.
Heat up the olive oil in a pan. In order to achieve the perfect crust on the lamb, sear in batches. As the lamb in searing, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl for the seasoning. Set aside for later use.
Reserve lamb on a plate. Once all of the lamb has been seared and removed from the pan, turn up the heat and add in the chicken stock. Scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Once released, whisk in the seasoning mixture. Turn off the heat and reserve the liquid.
In my opinion, the chermoula is what sends this dish over the top. Chermoula is used quite often in North African cuisine as a sauce or marinade. As mentioned earlier, feel free to adjust the heat level to your liking. In a blender, combine all of the ingredients for the chermoula, except for the olive oil. Pulse a few times to break up. Slowly, drizzle in enough olive oil to form a sauce (see photo below). Reserve.
BUILDING THE LAMB TAGINE
Once all of the ingredients have been prepped, it’s now time to start building the tagine. Be sure to read the directions that accompany your pot. Some are oven-safe, at certain temperatures. Some, like mine, can only be used on the stovetop with a heat diffuser. You most definitely want to avoid cracking or breaking the pot during the cooking process.
As an alternative to cooking in a clay pot, you can use either an enameled cast iron pot, or slow cooker. However, in my opinion, this entire recipe is so fun because of the cooking vessel and technique.
Set the heat diffuser on the stove. Turn heat to medium and place the bottom of the clay pot on top of the diffuser. You will be cooking at medium heat for the duration.
Toss in the diced celery, carrots and shallots. In a single layer, place the sliced potatoes on top of the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Top the potatoes with the chopped tomatoes.
Sprinkle on the apricot slices. Add in the reserved seared lamb, along with any juices. Pour in the reserved stock mixture. Top the lamb with half of the chermoula. Cover with lid. Allow to cook for at least two to two and a half hours, or until the lamb is fork tender. Taste on occasion for salt.
While the Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Apricots is slowly cooking, prepare the rice. I’m going to admit, I was a bit lazy about making the rice from scratch. Honestly, I found the most amazing alternative. This basmati rice from VeeTee is the best. Unlike a number of other brands of packaged rice, this one never tastes like the packaging, and can be microwaved in two minutes. If you have never tried, you must!
TO SERVE THE MOROCCAN LAMB TAGINE WITH APRICOTS
Once the lamb is super tender, you are almost ready to indulge! Sprinkle with the slivered almonds (feel free to toast them for an added level of flavor). Top the entire dish with the remaining chermoula. Serve up with the prepared rice. Some of you may wonder why potatoes AND rice. Believe me. It just works.
No need to transfer to a serving dish. ENJOY this amazing creation right out of this gorgeous, handcrafted clay pot. I honestly, cannot wait to make this dish, again and again!
Love lamb as much as I do? Check out these recipes!