I don’t own a tagine (the vessel) but you can make a very good facsimile of a tagine (the dish) in a Dutch oven, which is the way I have done it here. For authenticity this would typically be lamb, but I had a nice chuck roast and, as you know, good home cooking is all about innovation and flexibility so beef it was tonight. Don’t be scared of making this, it is basically a pot roast. I know you can do it. You can make it hot by adding cayenne pepper, but be prudent.
1 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 chuck roast (about 3 LBS give or take)
1 yellow onion slice fine
4 carrots, peeled and cut into two inch pieces
1 14 OZ can of diced tomatoes
1 TBS Ras El Hanout (McCormick makes a version of this Moroccan spice blend)
1 TBS honey
8 whole green cardamom pods
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
10 pieces dried apricots
10 pieces dried Bing cherries (You can get these at Trader Joe’s, or use prunes)
2 whole Cinnamon sticks broken in half.
Salt and Pepper.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Proceed as you would when making a pot roast by browning the meat over high heat in the Dutch oven (salt and pepper it) on the stove top, turning the meat with tongs and adjusting the heat so you brown it but don’t burn it.
Remove the browned meat to a plate, reduce the heat, and sauté the onions and carrots in the Dutch oven until they have caramelized a bit, about five minutes or so.
Add the canned tomatoes, the Ras El Hanout, honey, cardamom pods, garlic, apricots, cherries (or prunes) and the cinnamon sticks. Add a half cup of water in the tomato can and stir it all. Bring it to a boil, put the meat on top of the sauce, cover it, put it in the oven and cook it for 3 hours. You can turn it half way or just leave it.
Let it sit for five minutes and then cut it up. It should be falling apart and fork tender. Serve over couscous or rice.
(Photo: R. L. Floyd 2017)