People who know me would tell you that it's hard to tell which I like more: gardening or cooking. I'd say it depends on which I'm doing at the moment. Anyway, French cooking and French gardening go hand in hand. For me, cooking is an on-going adventure. Join me here on my culinary explorations, where I share with you both my old favorites as well as new inspirations. It's my fondest wish that these recipes serve as a springboard for your own new creations.
03/31/2010 Lamb-pumpkin tagine with orange blossom water and honey (Tagine d'agneau et courge à l'eau de fleur d'oranger et au miel) Clay pot
I lamb shoulder, boned and cut into 2" chunks 2 T. butter 1 sweet onion grated 1 2" cinnamon stick Heaping 1/4 t. ground saffron, or very large pinch stamens 1/2 t. ground ginger 1 t. sea salt 1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper 8 sprigs coriander + 8 sprigs parslet tied together 1 1/2 lb. pumpkin or winter squash, cut into 1" cubes 2 T. salt 1 onion, cut in half lengthwise and then cut lengthwise into thin "wings" 1 t. ground cinnamon 1/2 c. dark raisins 1 overflowing soupspoon honey, thyme if possible 3-4 T. orange blossom water 1/4 c. chopped coriander
Melt the butter over medium low heat in an earthenware tagine dish or other wide clay pan with a lid. Add the grated onion and the first group of spices (excluding the ground cinnamon, but including the salt), stir to combine well. Add the lamb and turn in the butter spice mixture to coat thoroughly. Bury the herb bouquet in the meat. Cover and cook over very low heat about 1 1/4 hours, stirring occasionally. (If you are trying to make this dish in an iron casserole, you will probably need to add water from time to time to keep the contents juicy.
Meanwhile, place the pumpkin in a colander, sprinkle with the 2 T. salt, combine thoroughly, and leave in the sink to disgorge its water for at least an hour. Rinse, drain, and dry thoroughly.
Add the onion 'wings' and the ground cinnamon to the tagine; cover and continue cooking 15 minutes. Add the pumpkin and raisins, stir gently to combine, cover and cook until the pumpkin is not quite tender. Add the honey, combine carefully and continue cooking, covered, 10 minutes. The pumpkin should be just tender, but still holding its shape. If not yet tender, continue cooking another 5-10 minutes.
Sprinkle the orange blossom water over the tagine, combine very gently, turn off the heat and allow to sit, covered, 5-10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with the chopped coriander and serve with Moroccan bread.
Note: This delicious tagine is deeply flavored with exotic North African spices. The orange blossom water and saffron complement the pumpkin to perfection. The dish will have the most intense flavor if you make it with pumpkin that has been stored all winter.