MROUZIA, LAMB TAGINE WITH RAISINS
- Meat and Marinade
- 2.2 lbs Trimmed lamb with bones (shanks, neck or shoulder), cut into large pieces
- 1 1/2 tbsp Ras-el-hanout for Mrouzia, preferably freshly ground
- 1/2 tsp ground pepper, a mix of black and white
- 2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
- For Cooking the Meat
- 4 tbsp olive and vegetable oils, mixed
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 medium-size yellow onion, finely chopped, optional
- 1 tsp smen
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 tsp saffron threads
- For Cooking the Raisins
- 1.1 lbs dark raisins, preferably not too sweet
- 1 tsp Ras el Hanout (Mrouzia blend), freshly ground preferably
- 4 tbsp clear honey, or icing sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 5.2 oz whole blanched almonds
Marinate the Meat
In a large container, mix the spices with 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil. Brush the meat with this mixture and massage it well. Cover and refrigerate 6 to 12 hours.
Cook the Meat
In a heavy-bottom pot or a dutch oven, add the meat, the onion, the spices, smen and about 1/4 cup of water. Place on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring a couple of times to rotate the meat, making sure that all sides have been immersed in the liquid at some point. At this stage, we are helping the meat to absorb as much flavor from the spices as possible so these first 10 minutes are important.
Slowly add enough water to cover the meat, taking care to pour the water near the sides of the pot and not directly on the meat itself. (You don't want to wash off those spices.)
Add the rest of the oil and bring the liquids to a simmer.
Continue simmering the meat over medium-low heat for about two hours, or until the meat is tender. During this period, check the pot frequently to see if it needs more liquid and also to ensure that the meat does not stick to the bottom of the pot and burn.
Cooking the Raisins
While the meat is cooking, place the raisins in a bowl and cover with cold water. Leave them to soak for at least an hour before draining and using.
Once the meat is tender, add drained raisins, the teaspoon of ras el hanout, and the honey or sugar. Carry on cooking over medium-low heat while watching the process carefully.
The sauce should be reduced and thickened after 20 to 30 minutes or so. No watery liquid should remain.
Fry or Roast the Almonds
The almonds can be prepped for garnish ahead of time or while the meat is cooking. Use one of the methods below.
To Oven-Roast: Preheat the oven to 325° F (160° C). Spread the blanched almonds on a baking sheet and roast them for about 25 minutes, tossing them a couple of times. They should be roasted evenly throughout with a nice crunch and a golden color at the end. Adjust the time according to your oven in order to achieve the right texture and color.
To Fry: Pour the oil in a small deep pan and wait until it's warm to start frying the almonds. Oil that is too hot will NOT achieve the desired outcome. Give a stir from time to time and fish all the almonds out once they turn lightly golden. Spread them on paper towels or a kitchen towel to git rid of excess oil.
Serving and Storing
Always serve mrouzia hot. The meat is first placed in the center of a warm serving plate, topped with the confit of raisins and followed by any drop of that thick dark amber liquid. The dish is garnished with almonds. Some dried rose petals will nicely finish off the presentation.
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