Friday, December 05, 2014

Lamb Tagine Chili

Yet another football-filled Sunday rolled around posing yet another dinner dilemma. Should I make something that cooks up quickly, or something that can stew on the stove for a bit while the game is on? On days when the Ravens lose, I am often too dispirited to put a tasty meal together, so it's best that I get dinner started well in advance. Chili is usually my go-to long-simmered meal, but honestly, I am so tired of it. I've made green chilis and red chilis, chilis with turkey, chicken, beef, and lamb. With cubed meat and with ground meat. Just about the only thing I haven't tried making chili with is tofu, and as much as I like the stuff, I don't think I could make it work.

Forget tofu. I went with lamb.

Rather than use a typical chili flavor profile, I switched things up and added things that one might fine in a Moroccan tagine: orange, lemon, olives, cinnamon. But it still has the coriander and cumin flavors of more familiar Tex-Mex chili. Except for the chile powder. If you want it spicy, feel free to add chiles.

Lamb Tagine Chili

2 leeks
Olive oil
2 pounds ground lamb
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Generous pinch cayenne
1/2 cup orange juice
Rind from half a lemon, julienned
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 roasted red peppers, diced
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon honey
1-2 tablespoons of flour
Salt to taste
1½ tablespoons sesame seeds
1/4 cup green olives, sliced
Cilantro leaves (optional)
Basmati rice

Cut the leeks in half and slice thinly. Wash thoroughly to get rid of any sand or dirt. Add a bit of olive oil to a large pot or dutch oven and saute the leeks for a few minutes. Add the lamb and cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is broken up into smaller chunks and browning in spots, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and spices and cook an additional five minutes. Add the orange juice, lemon rind, tomatoes, peppers, and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium-low and simmer for at least an hour, until meat is tender.

Skim fat from broth and bring to a boil. Combine the flour with twice as much warm water (or stock, or sauce from the pot) and stir well to make a runny slurry. Dribble into the chili and stir to combine. Add as much or as little as you need to achieve a consistency you like. Stir in the honey and add salt to taste (at least a couple of teaspoons).

Serve over basmati rice with a sprinkle of sesame seeds, some olives, and cilantro, if you wish.

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