Does everyone have a professional photographer friend? Sure seems that way. I’m lucky, because I’ve known mine most of my life, and he’s pretty damn good. Over the summer, I went to my first-ever estate sale. Stephanie and I had to stand in line to get in, for chrissakes. After about an hour searching through the life of someone we didn’t know, we decided that we weren’t really serial estate sale people, and that’s a Good Thing. However, we didn’t walk out empty-handed. We bought a middle eastern-style tagine, which is a cone-shaped cooking vessel. Incidentally, the boys were coming over that night to hang out, and Michael, the photographer, strongly hinted in an email that he wanted some food shots for his online portfolio.
The tagine, and the food, clearly were the focus of the evening.
Interestingly enough, both the cooking vessel and the stew are called tagines. This one was laden with relatively cheap cuts of lamb neck, herbs grown right on our deck. and vegetables from our CSA farm share. I mean, what else can you do with ground cherries? Dried fruit work especially well in this type of dish, and by simply deleting the lamb and adding some more beans like chick peas, you can easily transform this to a vegan dish. It is also gluten- and dairy-free. You can cook with the tagine right on the stovetop, and then serve from it at the table for a great presentation.
Middle Eastern Tagine Recipe
I don’t work with recipes, so there’s no actual "recipe" to share. I often take my influence from several different web sites and TV shows. Instead, I’ll list the ingredients; keep it simple and be creative!
- Approximately 1.25 lb of Lamb necks
- carrots, cut into disks
- dried apricots
- dried cherries
- ground cherries
- red pepper
- chick peas (ceci!)
- bay leaves
- Cook and serve right in the tagine. Just don’t forget it’s hot!
- Don’t forget to cover the tagine with the lid during cooking.
- Be sure to sear the lamb to get a nice crust.
- Put the ground cherries on last, and keep them raw. They provide a nice contrasting pop.