The name of this recipe doesn’t really do the dish justice. Prunes just aren’t sexy ingredients, even if you call them dried plums. But the way they meld with lamb, creating a perfect sweet and savory flavor, is nothing short of transcendent.
Every bite combines a meaty, tender morsel of lamb with a hint of sweet, soft prune. Saffron, turmeric, ginger, garlic and onion add layers of warm, complex flavor. This is a simple throw-it-in-the-pot-and-let-it-simmer kind of meal that’s dinner party and holiday worthy.
The ingredients in this tagine were chosen because they taste incredible together, but as a bonus they offer plenty of health benefits too. Turmeric is a promising weapon against inflammation, cancer and dementia. Ginger is a digestive aid, and onions and garlic add to your intake of sulfur-rich vegetables. Lamb is a great source of B vitamins, niacin and zinc and prunes have a decent amount of antioxidants. Prunes fall into the “sensible indulgences” category, but if you want to add even fewer prunes than the recipes calls for, go ahead. The dish will still taste great.
But don’t obsess about all those health benefits while you’re eating. Just enjoy the unique and complex flavors of a comforting and delicious meal. And pray that you have leftovers, because this lamb and prune tagine tastes just as good (if not better) the next day.
Servings: 4 to 6
Time in the Kitchen: 3 hours
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil (45 ml)
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or pressed
- 1-inch (2.5 cm) piece of gingerroot, peeled and thinly sliced or finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (2.5 ml)
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled (2.5 ml)
- 2 1/2 pounds lamb shoulder, cut into 3-inch cubes and seasoned with salt and pepper (1.13 kg)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 cup pitted prunes, halved (140 g)
Heat the coconut oil over medium heat in a wide, deep pot or saucepan. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and turmeric. Sauté 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the saffron and lamb and saute a few minutes more to lightly brown the meat. Add the cinnamon stick and just enough water to cover the meat, about 3 cups.
Bring the water to a boil then cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer gently until the lamb is very tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. If necessary, add more water as the lamb cooks to keep the top of the meat from peaking out of the water and drying out.
Remove the cinnamon stick. If desired, skim excess oil off the top. Add the prunes and a sprinkle of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Keep the lid off the pot and simmer 20 to 30 minutes more, reducing the liquid and softening the prunes.