Adapted from a BBC recipe
One of my regrets from China is that the one and only time I saw goat for sale I passed it up. What was I going to do with a whole leg of goat—the only way they were being sold—in my one wok kitchen? When the Farmer’s Market came back in San Jose one of the vendors had goat. I wasn’t going to pass it up a second time.
Once I had my goat meat how was I going to prepare it? A couple of weeks ago I was making a Thai green papaya salad and I thought I would do a Thai goat stew. However the kids decided that we should come to their place that week and I did not want to tote around a hot stew. This week, the kids were coming to our house, but I no longer had the ingredients for the Thai salad. What else could I do? I finally decided on a Moroccan goat tagine spiced with ras el hanout. I also decided to serve a nutty couscous for the side dish.
Tagine is the name of both the cooking pot and the stews that you cook in it—yes that does get a bit confusing. Tagines (the pot) have a low bowl like base and a cone shaped lid that catches any condensation generated by the cooking and drains it down around the edges of the stew—a flatter lid would cause this liquid to rain down on top of the stew.
Karl’s Moroccan Goat Tagine
1 Tbs. ras el hanout spice mix
2 tsp. cumin, ground
1 tsp. turmeric, ground
¼ tsp. saffron strands
2 lb. goat meat, cut into medium chunks
3 Tbs. vegetable oil, separate uses
1 red onion, coarsely chopped
Pinch of Kosher salt
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large beefsteak tomato, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 can (14.5 oz.) fire roasted tomatoes, diced
1 can (15 oz.) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
6 oz. dried apricots, coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh flat leave parsley, coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
¼ cup pistachios, roughly chopped
½ tsp. black pepper, to taste
¼ tsp. Kosher salt, to taste
1. Put the ras-el-hanout, cumin, turmeric, and saffron strands in a spice grinder and process to a course powder.
2. Put the goat chunks in a medium bowl and sprinkle the spice mixture over the meat.
Tip: Massage the meat to completely coat each piece with the spices.
3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.
Tip: Overnight is better.
4. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan, over medium high heat, and brown the goat pieces on all sides.
Tip: You will probably need to do this is two batches. You are not trying to cook the meat all the way through at this point. You only want to get enough browning to get the flavors from the Maillard reaction.
Note: Many tagine recipes have you do this in the tagine’s base on the stove top. However, tagines are usually made of ceramic that will crack if you do not use a heat diffuser—which I do not have. As a result, I sautéed my ingredients in a pan and then transferred them to the tagine.
5. Transfer the goat to the base of the tagine and heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the sauté pan.
6. Add the onions and salt to the pan and sauté them until translucent, about 4-5 minutes.
Tip: Use the moisture released by the onions to de-glaze the pan.
7. Pull the onions to the side of the pan and sauté the garlic in the hole in the center until fragrant, about one minute.
8. Add all of the tomatoes with their juices, the garbanzo beans, and the apricots to the onions in the pan and cook for another two minutes to heat them through.
9. Depending on which container is bigger, add the goat to the sauté pan or the onion/tomato/bean mixture to the base of the tagine.
Tip: You will be mixing the meat and vegetables together and you do not want your ingredients falling out while you stir.
Note: When you are done stirring, you want the mixture to end up in the base of the tagine.
10. Put the lid on the tagine and place it on the lowest rack in a cold oven.
Tip: Placing cold ceramic cookware in a hot oven risks cracking it.
11. Set the oven temperature to 350 F and bake the tagine for 60-90 minutes, until the goat is tender.
Tip: You may gently stir the tagine half way through the cooking time, but it is not really necessary.
Note: Tagines are very good at keeping the moisture inside the pot. However, this makes for a very thin sauce. I used a turkey baster to transfer some of the pots liquid to a small pot and boiled the sauce to thicken it—pouring it back into the tagine just before serving.
12. About ten minutes before the tagine is done toast the pistachios in a small dry pan and chop them.
13. Coarsely chop the herbs and mix them in a bowl.
14. Just before serving, stir in ¾ of the pistachios and herbs.
15. Garnish the tagine with the remaining nuts and herbs and serve warm.