Sometimes, after a long day at work, when I’m watching TV (most likely Food Network or The Real Housewives of somewhere), I like to pick a cookbook off my bookshelf and just flip through it. I do this, one, because I find it immensely relaxing, and, two, because it often inspires me to come up with new recipes of my own.
A few nights ago, I was looking through Ina Garten’s newest cookbook, Make it Ahead. All of her recipes look absolutely mouth watering, but I found I kept flipping back to one in particular, her Moroccan lamb tagine. This recipe stuck out to me because I love Moroccan food and tagines (although I don’t actually have a tagine), and also because it looked simple to make. As I thought about it more, I wondered if I could make it even simpler by making a slow cooker version. Ina’s Moroccan lamb tagine is definitely a party dish. It’s a show stopper, and although the recipe is easy enough to follow, it takes a bit of time to assemble and 3 hours to cook in the oven. It happened to be the middle of the week, I hadn’t planned on having company over, and I didn’t want to wait 3 hours after work for dinner to be ready. So, I brainstormed a bit and came up with my own slow cooker version of her recipe. I swapped out a few ingredients and traded lamb shanks for beef stew meat, but it still resembles her recipe and it definitely is reminiscent of those famous Moroccan tagines I love so much. Think of it as the weeknight version of Moroccan lamb tagine. It’s just as delicious, just a little less fancy.
Slow cooker Moroccan beef stew (Adapted from Ina Garten’s Moroccan Lamb Tagine)
2 tbsp of olive oil
2.5 lbs of beef stew meat, cubed (like a chuck roast or bottom round roast)
2 large onions, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp of grated or finely chopped ginger
1.5 tsp of chili powder
1.5 tsp ground turmeric
1.5 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 cinnamon stick
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 cups of good chicken stock
2 tbsp lightly packed light brown sugar
4 slices of lime, 1/4 inch thick
2 yukon gold potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces (1 inch)
1 lb. of peeled and diced butternut squash (1 inch)
2 sweet potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces (1 inch)
salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Brown the beef stew meat in batches. Put the browned, but not fully cooked, beef in the bottom of the slow cooker.
2. Top the beef with the rest of the ingredients: diced onions, garlic, ginger, spices, cinnamon stick, crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, brown sugar, limes, potatoes, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Stir to combine everything.
4. Set the slow cooker to high, and let it cook for 6 hours, or low and let it cook for 8 hours. Either way, remove the cinnamon stick after 3 hours.
5. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve the stew over couscous, or if you don’t have couscous, rice or potatoes make good vehicles for this stew also.