I just got a new-to-me tagine, which came with an authentic Moroccan cookbook, but I was limited in terms of ingredients (as in, I'm pretty much broke till Friday), so I instead I picked a recipe off Epicurious for Moroccan meatball tagine, which in addition to being the name of the cooking crock, is also another word for stew. I had almost everything in the ingredients list or a reasonable substitution, which is one the reasons I chose this one, including all the spices except saffron, because I'd rather fill my fridge than buy a half ounce of spice, if you know what I mean.
Made the meatballs first. I was surprised by how appealing to me the cinnamon and other spices (which I usually associate with baking) combined with the meat smelled. I'm not generally a big fan of cinnamon, so this was noteworthy for me.
While the onions were cooking, I diced carrots and beets. The beets were really the only substitution I made, but I didn't have enough of the carrots, which are an heirloom variety from a local market. They tend to range from bright yellow to a pale cream. These ones are definitely on the paler end of the spectrum.
Added more spices to the onions, cooked a little longer
then added diced tomatoes and beef broth.
Simmered that baby for about ten minutes over very low heat, and added the vegetables and the meatballs.
You can see that the beets are already adding colour to the liquid after only a few minutes of cooking. Also, I ended up removing about a cup of liquid to get everything to fit without the lid causing an overflow of the tagine.
The extra liquid went in a brie baker to cook alongside the tagine in the oven (not pictured), and went to the table to ladle as desired over the rice and meatballs. The only other real change I made to the recipe was that I didn't add spinach or other leafy green at the end. I thought I had rapini in the fridge, but it turned out we'd finished it last night when Stephen made poached eggs on toast, and steamed the rapini to accompany.
The stew cooked for about 45 minutes altogether. as I started my rice (not couscous) a little later than planned. When I got it upstairs and on the table, I was a little apprehensive about lifting the lid. What if the insides had dried up and my lovely meatballs were stuck to the bottom of the tagine?
No need to worry. The stew turned out amazingly. The beets added really gorgeous colour, and the flavours were a warm spicy blend, even in the short cooking time.
I would definitely make this again! My kids have become curry fiends, and I think they'd enjoy this variation on spicy. Steph, who spent the day working outside at his parents' place and came home with wet feet and the sniffles, pronounced it a feast for all five senses. Couldn't ask for a more rave review!