There’s something so satisfying about slow cooked meals.
Hours of simmering turns cheap (re: tough) cuts of meat into melt-in-your-mouth tender morsels, and the stewing process develops a complexity of flavors you simply can’t get with quick cooking methods.
Every culture has their own form of a stew.
In Hungary it’s goulash, in France it’s beef bourguignon or daube, in the US it’s chili or gumbo, in Brazil it’s feijoada, in Ireland it’s Irish stew, in Ethiopia it’s wat, and in Northern Africa, it’s tagine.
Traditionally, tagines are cooked in a shallow pot with a cone shaped lid.
As the stew cooks, any liquid that evaporates condenses on the lid and drips back into the stew. This keeps the stew moist and delicious.
You can purchase tagines online, or at specialty stores like Sur La Table. While they are a unique piece to have, I’ve found that a heavy lidded pot, like an enameled cast iron Dutch oven, works just as well.
Many traditional tagines use lamb, but I opted for a cheaper cut of beef to make the meal more budget friendly. I based this recipe off of a lamb tagine from Food & Wine magazine, simply swapping out lamb shanks for beef cubes, & switching up the spices a tad. I also chose to chop the apricots, since I personally don’t like gigantic bites of rehydrated dried fruit 🙂
I promise, you won’t be disappointed by this stew. The beef is super duper tender, the cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, and ginger spice everything so richly, and the plump apricots and garbanzo beans give it lots of fiber and heft.
Don’t skimp the couscous either. Cooking it in chicken broth imparts so much flavor, and stirring in chopped roasted almonds and parsley add delicious crunch and flavor to the dish.
This is the perfect meal for a lazy Sunday with family.
Let it simmer on the stove while you enjoy great conversation and mezze (appetizers), then serve family style.
- 2 lbs fresh tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 1/2 lbs beef stew meat, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 1 large onion, cut into a small dice
- 2 large carrots, cut into a small dice
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons dried ground turmeric
- 2 3- inch whole cinnamon sticks
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 2 quarts (8 cups) chicken stock
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley + 2 tablespoons for couscous
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (plus extra for garnish)
- 12 oz dried apricots, quartered
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 1/2 (15oz) cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups couscous
- 2/3 cup chopped roasted almonds
Fill an enameled cast iron dutch oven 2/3rds full with water and bring to a boil. Use a small knife to cut an “x” through the skin on the bottom of the tomatoes. Place in the pot of boiling water and blanch until the skin starts to peel back from the ‘x’ cuts on the bottom of the tomatoes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool. Dump the boiling water and put the dutch oven back on the stove.
When the tomatoes are cooled, carefully peel off the skins & cut the tomatoes into a small dice. Set aside.
Next, add two tablespoons olive oil to the dutch oven and warm over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the stew meat generously with kosher salt and ground black pepper. Add to the pot and cook, turning occasionally, until nicely browned on all sides, about 10-15 minutes. When done, use a slotted spoon to remove to a plate and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, carrots, garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric, and cinnamon sticks to the pot. Stir to combine and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.
Add the beef back to the pot and stir in the wine. Increase the heat to bring to a simmer and cook for about 3 minutes to let some of the alcohol cook off. Add the tomatoes, 4 cups (1 quart) chicken stock, 1/2 cup chopped parsley, and 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro. Bring to a simmer again, cover, and let simmer lightly for about 1 1/2 hours, until the beef is just tender.
Add the apricots and honey to the pot, and cook covered for another 30 minutes, until then beef is meltingly tender. Scoop out the cinnamon sticks and discard. Stir in the chickpeas, and season the tagine to taste with salt and pepper.
While the tagine is in its last 30 minutes of cooking, prep the couscous. Put the dried couscous in a heatproof bowl. Place the other quart of chicken stock in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, and pour the broth over the couscous. Cover with a plate or lid or foil and let the couscous absorb the liquid for about 30 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff with a fork, and stir in the almonds and 2 tablespoons chopped parsley.
To serve, spoon some couscous into a bowl and ladle a few scoops of tagine on top. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro & enjoy.