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What’s sweeter than fresh sweet peas (in super sweet little hands nonetheless)? On a recent trip to the farmer’s market I was very happy to see tables bulging with these beautiful peas. As the first of the season some pods were full of plump peas while others were minimal. While at the market I also picked up some lamb chops from a local organic farm, stalks of green garlic and bunches of mint and flat-leaf parsley. I know exactly what I was going to make.
I’ve been wanting to make some tajines in my tajine pot instead of the pressure cooker. While I love the speed a pressure cooker affords, sometimes I find dishes cooked that way lack the character and flavors that cooking in a clay tajine provides.
My smaller vessel has a crack in it from heating it up too fast when I was nieve in the ways of clay. Instead of tossing it I use it for serving and in this instance a little improvisation. I always use a heat diffuser now, a circular piece of metal that goes between the burner and the tajine. I also had the idea to use a piece of aluminum as a barrier to the crack in the bottom of the tajine. I put it around the outside of the bottom piece. (It worked fantastically!!! No leaks!) I then filled it like this.
**Tajine for 3-4 people, cooked in a small tajine. This can be easily doubled to feed more people
- 3-4 lamb chops with extra fat trimmed
- 4 red potatoes peeled and cut into quarters
- 1/2 c shelled fresh green peas
- 6-8 cloves of fresh garlic
- 1 medium onion chopped finely
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- small bunch of flat-leaf parsley
- 2-3 mint leaves
- 1/2 preserved lemon
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp water
In the bottom of a tajine add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil and the chopped onions to form your base. Place the lamb shanks in the middle of the tajine, as flat as possible. Arrange potatoes around the lamb chops.
Spread the peas around the tajine. Some in the middle, around the edges – anywhere they will fit! Cut the preserved lemon into several pieces and slip in and around the tajine, making sure some are sitting on the lamb. Do the same thing with the garlic cloves. Finally sprinkle the cumin, pepper, and turmeric all around the tajine. Chop up the parsley and mint leaves and sprinkle all over the top of the tajine. Finally pour the 2 tbsp of water over the top of the dish.
Cover up the tajine and place on the stovetop over medium-low heat. Leave it alone now. This took about 2 1/2 hours to cook all the way through. The lamb should be very tender, falling apart and the potatoes soft. During the cooking process you can check how things are coming along. Use a spoon to scoop up sauce that is forming at the bottom of the tajine and pour on top of the vegetables and meat. This adds some extra flavor.
When it’s all done it should look a little bit like this. Creamy potatoes, delicious sauce and super tender lamb. Yum. Yum.
I did not have to encourage MarocBaba to eat this. He dug right in. His first comment was, “where did you learn to make a tajine from Ourika?” Say what?! This was my own creation but apparently the flavors and ingredients are akin to a dish that is found in the Ourika valley outside of Marrakech. I must be channeling my inner Maghrebi.