Day 98- Buy a Tagine

#306, Buy a tagine and cook in it

I enjoyed my cooking class last night and I was pleased to lug home my brand new Emile Henry tagine from France. It was burning a hole in my kitchen, so today I decided to recreate the recipes from my cooking class while they are all still fresh in my mind.

When I’m new to cooking something, I like to make it the first time exactly as the recipe states. Only when I’m sure what was intended do I begin experimenting. I think it is all the years of professional recipe testing that has influenced me, but I know someone went to a good deal of work to create the recipe so I like to try it their way in the beginning. If the recipe is not working, of course I’ll adjust, but if it is fine I’ll let it be.

It was the perfect day for cooking tagine. Since it was cool and rainy, I ran to the market early and came home to spend the day in the kitchen. I turned the fireplace on and set the TV to play The Hundred Foot Journey in the background while I set to cooking.

I toasted spices and sliced onions and minced garlic and ginger. Soon my whole house smelled like Morocco.

Here’s my pretty new tagine and my mise en place.

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You might think that this is a lot of dishes to wash, but they’re easy to rinse and throw in the dishwasher. I have a deep love for nice mise en place. It makes me happy to cook when everything is at the ready.

The name, tagine, refers to both the pot and the food you cook in it. I made a chicken tagine today, but you can use beef or lamb, or make vegetarian stews as well. (This is a similar recipe to the one I’ve made from the Sur la Table website.)

The lid of the tagine works to keep in steam, and it’s unique shape allows the liquid to travel up the neck of the pot and slowly drip back into the dish. It’s beautiful as a serving dish, and retains heat well. In my case, it stayed hot while I prepared the couscous and put the finishing touches on the salad.

The tagine recipe that was provided in the class was very good, but I think I will have fun messing with it. Chef David used dried cherries in addition to the dried apricots and yellow raisins that the recipe called for. I liked his addition and I think I might add toasted pine nuts to the final dish too. That’s the lovely thing about a stew, you can change it up as you see fit.

What I liked best about the recipe was the addition of fresh herbs at the end. It gave brightness to the dish, and made the flavors come alive on the palate. I especially loved the addition of mint, and I will add an obnoxious amount when I make it again.

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I was pleased with how the meal came together. I used my V slicer to julienne the carrots and I wouldn’t make the salad any other way. The texture of the salad is MADE with the long shreds of carrot- a box grater would not yield the same result. I opted for French feta, which is milder and creamier than it’s Greek counterpart. The pearlized couscous, sometimes called Israeli couscous, is prepared like a rice pilaf, but is ready in just a few minutes.

When I did the final tasting, something was slightly off. I tried to remember what Chef David had done and then it dawned on me that he had used a bit of flaked finishing salt at the end. Once I did the same, everything worked.

My maiden voyage with the tagine was a success. I’m looking forward to trying new recipes and making up some of my own.

266 days to go!

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