Lamb and Chickpea Tagine

So far to date, I have only made one recipe with lamb. I know, it is obvious that it scares me a bit – especially since the only recipe I have used lamb in is pastitio (using only ground lamb). But, I thought I would continue to ease into the meat, and try a lamb stew.

Previously I blogged about a Moroccan stew that is one of our winter favorites. This one looked a bit similar, but had lamb, a few different spices and the addition of honey. It was a cold winter night (hopefully one of our last) so I gave it a try.

The stew is so hearty and warming, it makes you feel cozy inside – the cilantro is a bright addition to the heavy dish and the pistachios (although I originally I thought were odd) gave a great flavor and crunch. I served it over couscous in true African tradition, but you could certainly serve without.

I got this recipe from Cooking Light and it came with a wine pairing so I thought I would try the two together. I was happy when I found the wine at my local Biggs and on sale for $20. It is a Rodney Strong 2007 “Knotty Vines” Zin from Sonoma County. If you can find it, I would recommend it with the tagine – it has a deep fruit flavor that complements the sweet and spicy nature of the dish.

SPECIAL NOTE: “Tagine” is named after the pot in which the stews are cooked in Northern Africa. It is truly unique – like a Dutch oven but with a cone-shaped lid. Most of us don’t have one, so a Dutch oven works perfectly!

LAMB AND CHICKPEA TAGINE
4 Servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound lamb stew meat
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons honey
2 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1/3 cup chopped pistachios
2 tablespoons small fresh cilantro leaves

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add lamb; sauté 4 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove lamb with a slotted spoon. Add onion, salt, pepper, and cumin to pan; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Return lamb to pan; stir in tomato paste and honey. Cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add broth, raisins, and chickpeas; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium, and cook 50 minutes or until lamb is tender, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with pistachios and cilantro.

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