Everyone seems to have a favorite address for couscous in Paris. I’m not going to tell you mine, but I will share one of my favorite recipes when I’m in the mood for couscous at home.
I make this dish a few times every winter. I love the savory sweetness of it, and I love that it is so easy. If you have an actual tagine, by all means use it. But any heavy pot with a lid will do. I use my Le Creuset Dutch oven.
This is an adaptation of a recipe from Claudia Roden’s New Book of Middle Eastern Food (Knopf).
Lamb Tagine with Prunes and Apricots
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds (about 1 kilogram) lamb shoulder meat, cut into large chunks
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground ginger
a pinch of ground chili (such as cayenne pepper)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
salt and freshly ground pepper
6 ounces (170 grams) prunes
6 ounces (170 grams) dried apricots, preferably unsulfured
for garnish: toasted almonds and freshly chopped parsley
1. Put the oil, lamb, onions, garlic, ginger, HALF of the cinnamon, salt and pepper in a heavy lidded pot. Add enough water to the pan to cover the meat, then cover and simmer very gently for at least 90 minutes, until the lamb is very tender, adding more water if necessary.
2. Add the dried fruit and the rest of the cinnamon to the pan and then cook, uncovered, another 30 minutes or so until the sauce has reduced and thickened. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
3. Serve the lamb with couscous, topped with the almonds and parsley.
This recipe can be made a day or two in advance and then gently reheated before serving. In Paris it might be served with boiled raisins and chickpeas. I like to serve it with a refreshing orange and olive salad, which also comes from the Roden book.