If you haven't had Moroccan food, you've just got to try it. They do an amazing job of bringing sweet and spicy to mingle on the tongue. Pair this dish with hot mint tea for a more authentic experience. For all my world travel, I first discovered Moroccan cuisine at - wait for it - Epcot in Orlando. There, I had a dish called Chicken Bastilla, which forever gave me a hankering for sweet and spicy dessert flavored main dishes. Since then, I've made Chicken Bastilla twice - it's a complicated process. This tagine, however, only takes about an hour - and most of that is just letting it cook on its own without being bothered.
Now, a tagine (or tajine or tajin), for those who are curious, is named so for the special earthenware pot that this North African dish is typically cooked in. I do not have such a dish, so I used a large pot. However, the tajine pot is made entirely of clay and consists of two parts - a base unit that is flat and circular with low sides and a large cone shaped cover that rests inside the base while the dish is cooking. The cover is designed that way to promote the return of all the steam condensation back into the bottom.
Moroccan Bison Tagine
(makes 4 servings)
3 lbs bison steak, cut into bite size cubes
4 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, diced
1/2 tsp Spanish saffron threads
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups dates, pitted
low sodium chicken stock
3/4 unsweetened coconut milk
~ 1/2 tbsp sea salt and fresh ground pepper, (more or less to taste)
Heat a large pot over medium heat and brown the bison meat in 3 tbsp of olive oil. When the meat is ready, use a slotted spoon to remove it to a plate for a little bit. Now, add the onions to the juices that have seeped out of the meat and cook for about 5 - 10 minutes. Until they're softened and a little brown. Now, add the bison back to the pot. Add the saffron, cinnamon stick, and ginger (the ginger is what makes this dish 'spicy', so if you like more of a kick, add some more here). Stir. Add the salt and pepper. Stir. Next, pour in your chicken stock until the contents of the pot are covered, stir the contents of the bowl so everything is all mixed up together, and let the mix simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of coconut milk to thicken the broth and then let simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the ground cinnamon, test the broth and adjust the seasoning to your taste. You may need more salt or ginger to balance the cinnamon. Continue to simmer, uncovered, for another 10-15 minutes. Add the dates and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Serve hot.
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