Lamb and prune tagine- a freezer full of fun

I promised people I wouldn’t.

He’s very capable of fending for himself. More than capable. But as I left the house – right before I double checked my passports, sunglasses and bridesmaid dress were all safely stowed in my luggage I took a large tupperware out of the freezer and left a note on it.

Just in case you’re hungry…. love you, love me.

I’ve flown ahead of him to Sydney. He’s only on his own for 11 days, but I just realised, it’s the longest we’ve been apart in six years.

Even when he went as the vanguard to London, leaving me to follow in the wake of my grandmother’s wake, we were only apart for five days.

Eleven days; 33-37 meals (we don’t call him The Hungry One for nothing).

There will be plenty of burgers eaten out. Perhaps a trip to Jose for some ham and beer. But if a few of them come from this tupperware, I’ll be happy.

It’s a lamb and prune tagine.

It’s capable of feeding a crowd, but also good to make some, eat half and freeze the rest for when neighbours need an emergency meal- or your partner abandons you for a few day.

It’s more robust than the tagines we came across in Morocco, most of which concentrated on just three ingredients. Here I’ve added chickpeas for bulk, while the lamb, onion and half dissolved prunes bring a lovely  sweetness.

To really make it sing (particularly after some time in the slow cooker – and then in a freezer), it needs some flaked almonds, chilli paste and some coriander. Luckily they’re all in the fridge and cupboard.

I think he’ll be just fine.

Lamb and prune tagine 

Serves 6

(Nb, you could just put everything straight in the slow cooker, but you will get a better flavour from browning the meat and the spices first.)

Shopping/ foraging

1.5kg of lamb shoulder, or neck, cut roughly into chunks the size of a matchbox
2 brown onion, cut into half moons
3 tbsp of olive oil
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp of paprika (not smoked)
2 tsp of ground cumin
2 tsp of ground ginger
1 tsp of black pepper
1 tsp of salt
2 tablespoons of plain flour
18 pitted prunes
1 tin of chickpeas, drained (the chickpeas aren’t essential, but they do help bulk it out)
300 ml of vegetable stock, or water

Optional toppings and condiments: fresh coriander, natural yogurt, flaked almonds and harissa/chilli paste.

Here’s how we roll

1. Combine the flour, salt, pepper, ginger, turmeric and ground cumin together (if you have a large freezer bag, do it in bottom of this- you can coat the meat by sealing the top and shaking it all around).

2. Toss the meat through the flour and spices.

3.Turn a large fry pan or wok onto a medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté the onion for 7-10 minutes until they soften. Either remove the onions and place them in a bowl to the side, or transfer them to the onions to the base of your slow cooker.

4. Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the casserole dish or wok. Seal the meat in two or three batches so the spices toast and the meat browns.

5.  Either return the onions to the casserole dish, or transfer the browned meat to the slow cooker.

6.Add the rest of the ingredients.  Put the lid on and cook it on low for 8-10 hours, or on medium for 5 hours.

7. Remove the lid for the last half an hour to help thicken the sauce. The heat should have helped most of the prunes to dissolve. You want your meat to be flaking apart against a fork.

8.Serve with cous cous, fresh coriander and flaked almonds.

9.Optional extras; a small dish of natural yogurt with a splash of olive oil mixed through it and a small dish of harissa or chilli paste for those who like things a little spicier (that includes The Hungry One).

  1. Aw, you are such a good partner! My fiance, on the other hand, takes the opportunity to treat himself like a King when I'm away – he's been known to sit up at the bar at Joel Robuchon on his own. B~~tard. Once, as I breezed out the door to leave him to his own devices, I mentioned there was soup in the fridge and he has never forgiven me.

  2. this looks amazing!!

  3. This looks great. I love prunes and I love tagines. Definitely have to try this. Really need to get into freezing meals.

  4. yum! i put prunes in a slow cooked meal recently and was so impressed at how amazing they tasted 🙂

  5. 11 days is an eternity! That is love on tap right there! x

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