Beef Tagine with Garlic Couscous

Beef Tagine with Garlic Couscous

Have you ever had a tagine?  If you’re a foodie you probably have, but if not, you might not have any clue what I’m talking about.  A tagine is a dish that’s named after the vessel it’s traditionally cooked in.  It’s from North Africa and is one of those wonderfully quintessential Moroccan dishes stewed with apricots and yummy spices… Mmmmmmm…

Lately Frank and I have been REALLY into couscous.  Especially Frank, who wants to eat it like candy (except, to him, it’s better than candy).  And I like that it’s yummier and faster to make than rice.  So… we’ve been eating it a lot.

The other day we were eating couscous for the 14th time that week, and a memory popped in my head of when my friend Matt made this dish for me and a few others at a dinner party.  The whole idea of the party was that Matt wanted to audition for The Next Food Network Star, so he made a whole bunch of different dishes and auditioned them on his friends to see what the best one was.  Matt’s an amazing cook, and everything he made was fantastic, but the clear winner of the evening hands-down was the tagine.  Meat and apricots stewed in smokey spices.  Oh man.

Randomly I found this recipe in Cooking Light.  I didn’t think it would be any good because it was only 360 calories.  But trust me, you want to make this.  Right now.  And chances are you have most of the ingredients at home–just a run to the store for the biggies.

And one more point–Cooking Light’s tagine used lamb.  I am ALL FOR lamb, but Frank’s not a big fan.  So we used stew meat.  I know, I know, what a disappointment… actually, not at all!  Feel free to use beef instead.  Of chicken.  Seriously.  But lamb, that’s where my heart lies…

Beef Tagine
(taken from Cooking Light, October 2010)

1 pound of beef stew meat (or lamb) cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 tsp salt
1 large onion, chopped in large chunks
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup dried apricots
14 oz low sodium beef broth

Heat a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, and coat with cooking spray.  Season meat with 1/4 tsp of the salt and add to the pot.  Brown the meat on all sides and then remove and place aside.  Add the onion and sautè about 4 minutes.  Add the rest of the salt (1/4 tsp), cumin, cinnamon, pepper, and garlic.  Sautè for 1 minute.  Stir in honey and tomato paste and continue to cook for 1 minute.  Add the cooked meat with the apricots and beef broth.  Bring to a boil while scraping brown bits from the bottom of the pot.  Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cover.  Cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Serves 4.  Serve with 1 cup of garlic couscous (recipe follows).

Garlic Couscous

Now, you are totally welcome to make couscous from a box, with the seasonings already inside.  Because that stuff is great.  But if you really love couscous, you might want to buy it in bulk and season it on your own using this as a guide.

1 3/4 cups water
1-2 tbsp olive oil (I don’t measure this–just eyeball)
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried parsley
1 1/3 cups dried couscous
grated parmesan cheese and pine nuts, optional

Combine water, oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and parsley in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Remove pan from the heat and add couscous.  Stir together and cover and let sit for 5 minutes.  Fluff cooked couscous with a fork and add additional seasoning if needed (note, all seasonings are approximate–taste to get the right balance).  Top with cheese and pine nuts if desired.

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