Berbere Tagine

How does it always seem that everything about life just goes by so quickly?  I think we always anticipate that it will slow down, but we just go and go like busybodies all the time…  There are so many things to do, so many things to see, so many places to go, and a million people to meet.  I love being busy, but I miss the slower pace, sometimes.  Waking up late, making pancakes, going for a walk, spending time with family, having no place to be… So that’s what I did this weekend.  Tried to slow down for a minute, enjoy the fresh air in central New York, and spend some time with family.

With no set agenda for the day, and the sun bright in the sky, I woke up late on Saturday and went for a drive into town with Tallulah.  She hung her head out the window, tongue out, loving every bit of the spring weather.  We went down the hill to check on the bees, whom were all bringing back scores of pollen.  Even the chickens were enjoying the warm weather, making a complete mess of my new flower beds (Thanks, Ladies).

Bees

For dinner, I decided to tap into our Berbere spice blend and use the handpainted tagine that we acquired on our recent trip to Morocco.  After learning of our small farm, many Moroccans decided that we were “Berberes of New York,” which we took as a compliment!  So I thought I’d try my hand at an authentic Moroccan tagine for dinner.  You’ll have to make your own Berbere spice mix, but here’s the recipe for you enjoy!

Finished Tagine

Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 fist sized portion of meat (we used venison, but you can use chicken or beef)
1 tsp Berbere spice mix
1-2 threads saffron
1 medium zucchini, cut longwise
2 medium potatoes, thick cut
2-3 medium carrots, cut longwise
5-6 pitted dates
small handful of raisins
5-6 olives
2-3 slices of lemon
small bundle of parsley (2-3 sprigs)
small bundle of cilantro (2-3 sprigs)

Directions
1) If you have a tagine, use it!  If you don’t, no problem!  You could very easily use a dutch oven, a lidded casserole dish, or even your slow-cooker.
2) Coat bottom of tagine with olive oil.  Add a layer of onion slices to the bottom.  Set the meat in the center of the tagine.  Sprinkle the meat with 1/2 the Berbere spice.  Start layering long slices of carrots, zucchini, and potatoes on the outside of the meat to form a conical shape. Sprinkle the vegetables with the remaining Berbere spice. On the outside of the cone, add dates and lemon slices.  At the top of the cone, insert olives and raisins.  Add bundles of parsley and cilantro to the peak.
3) Add 1/4 cup water to the bottom of the tagine.  Place lid on top.
4) Bake tagine at 300F for 3 hours (less if using chicken).  If you’re using a real tagine to bake in, do not preheat your oven to prevent the dish from cracking.  Typically, these are cooked over an open flame, and if you can make a fire and cook over it, I’m sure it will be delicious!
5) Enjoy the delights of Moroccan cuisine with a side of fresh-baked Khoobz and some fresh cucumbers, beets, tomatoes and onions.

Don’t forget to wash it all down with a too-sweet-treat of Berbere whiskey!

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