A tagine is a North African dish, traditionally cooked in a heavy clay pot. Tagines are slow cooked, resulting in tender meat and flavoursome vegetables.
This recipe is one of my favourites, the 2 hour cooking time results in beautifully tender beef that melts in the mouth, and the butternut squash tastes so much better stewed with carrots in cumin, ginger and cinnamon than it does when roasted. This recipe serves 5.
Time to prepare: 30 minutes
Time to cook: 1.5 - 2 hours
Step 1: Ingredients and Equipment
An oven proof pot with heavy, tight fitting lid
An oven, preheated to 150 celcius
- 1kg braising beef
- 1 large butternut squash
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 medium onions
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2-3 carrots
- 2 level teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 level teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 level teaspoons ginger
- 2 tea spoons honey
- 2 beef stock cubes
- ~450ml water
- 1 tablespoon corn flour
To save some money reduce the beef by 200-400g and add an extra 2-3 carrots.
Step 2: Preparing the Butternut Squash
Preheat your oven to 150 Celcius.
Preparing the butternut squash is the most consuming part of this recipe. I like to get it out the way before beginning cooking so as not to be rushed while doing the rest. If butternut squash is not available a small pumpkin or other squash may be used but I find they are not as sweet and butternut squash has a very distinct taste to it that goes best with this recipe.
To start, chop off either end of the butternut squash with a sharp, large knife.
Next you will need to trim off the skin. First chop the squash into pieces across its diameter. Where the gradient of the squash changes, chop it. This will leave you with 3-4 rings of squash with skin that you can shave off with the knife in straight slices. Take enough of the skin off to reveal the orange flesh beneath but not so much that you waste it.
The lower, fatter part of the squash contains the seeds and the pith that surrounds them. Scoop these out and either throw them away or save them for planting/roasting.
You should be left with rings of butternut squash and the upper solid part. Dice it into large chunks, 3cm cubed.
Step 3: Soften the Onions
Add a splash (1 tablespoon) of oil to the pan and put on the hob at a medium-low heat.
Peel your onions, cut in half then into wedges, 6 or 8 per onion. Throw these in the pan and fry until softened (not browned).
Step 4: Brown the Beef
While the onions soften, cut the beef into cubes/strips. Once the onions have softened, add the beef and turn up the hob's temperature to brown the beef.
Step 5: Veg!
Throw in the cubed butternut squash. Give it a stir and chop the carrots into disks and drop them in too.
Allow to sweat for 5-10 minutes until the squash and carrots start to soften on the edges and turn brighter.
Step 6: In With the Rest
Next add the spices:
2 beef stock cubes (this contains all the salt, msg and flavourings you'll need)
2 teaspoons of cumin (yum! my favourite!)
2 teaspoons of ginger
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
2 teaspoons of honey
Mix these in. By now the beef should have dropped all of its juices, these will mix in well. While these spices sound like an unlikely combination, I'm sure you'll agree once you've added them, they go WELL! Don't be tempted to add chilli for a kick, I did once and it detracted from the flavours at the end. This dish is all about flavours not heat.
Cook on the hob for a further 5-10 minutes to allow the veg and meat to take on the spices a bit.
Step 7: Into the Oven
To the pan add the teaspoon of cornflour, stir in well and then add enough water to fill the pan to 1cm below the top of the vegetables.
Bring to the boil.
Drop the lid on and put in the oven at 150 degrees Celsius for 1.5-2 hours.
Step 8: Serving Up
After 1 hour, remove from the oven, stir and put back in.
It is ready when the beef melts in the mouth and the squash is soft enough to mash with the back of a fork.
Serve with couscous or rice.