When I think of Morocco, I think of a mysterious and exotic place halfway around the world. I haven’t actually visited there, but a while back I researched the food of Morocco, purchased eight or nine Moroccan cookbooks—which I read cover to cover, and tested numerous Moroccan dishes for a class I was teaching. I fell in love with the fabulous and different food of this country and have continued to cook Moroccan dishes for family and dinner guests. I even served Moroccan food at a church luncheon for 80 ladies; they loved it!
A tagine is similar to a casserole—it is the name of a dish and also the name of the vessel it is cooked in. I have several tagines, which I use mostly for serving, and only occasionally cooking, since the food cooks better in a slow cooker and I don’t have to watch it. This recipe, which I have adapted to the slow cooker, was one I included in a slow cooker class that I taught recently. Although very different, it was one of the favorites and several students commented that it was the first one they planned to cook at home. This dish is quite sweet, so I would recommend serving lots of good fresh pita bread with it as well as generous helpings of plain couscous, which is available at most grocery stores (and is itself a quick cooking dream since it is just added to boiling water and allowed to sit 5 minutes—then it’s ready to serve).
Hands-on time for this recipe is 15-20 minutes to get the ingredients in the slow cooker, and about 20 minutes just before serving to boil the water for the couscous and sautè the apples. This is Quick Cooking at its Exotic best!
3 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch pulverized saffron
salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons grated onions
2 cups sliced onions
1/2 cup double strength beef broth
1/2 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup dried apricot halves
1/4 cup honey
4 medium tart apples
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Prepared couscous, enough for eight servings
Trim the meat of excess fat. Melt the butter, then mix with the oil, saffron, salt, pepper, ginger, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and grated onion. Dip each chunk of meat into the mixture and place in the slow cooker.
Add the sliced onion, beef broth, dates and apricots. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and drizzle with 3 tablespoons honey. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours.
Just before serving, quarter, and core the apples. Sauté in a large skillet, with the remaining tablespoon of honey, a pinch of cinnamon, and the 1 tablespoon of butter until soft and glazed.
To serve, Place the generous amount of couscous on a serving platter; top with the apples, then pour the meat mixture on top. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.