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Beef Tagine with Prunes Recipe

A delicious slow-cooked dish, slightly-sweetened with honey.
This, with the prunes, makes a delicious and unusual dish for British tastes - good enough for dinner parties or a barbecue/buffet side dish.
Serve it with couscous, and perhaps Flat Bread & a side salad.

Ingredients

For 4 main course helpings:

2 lbs/1.9 kilos Braising Beef. If possible, order Shin from your butcher, but he'll need a little notice, but give an unctuous feel to the sauce
1 big Onion, peeled and finely-chopped
2 medium cloves Garlic, peeled and finely-chopped
3 teaspoons (15ml) Ras el Hanout - an excellent blend comes from www.gourmetherbs.co.uk (http://www.gourmetherbs.co.uk/)
½ teaspoon (2ml) or a pinch of Saffron Strands - soaked in 2 tablespoons (30ml) very hot water
1 small bunch of fresh Coriander - tied together with clean thread or string
1 oz/30g Butter
1 tablespoon (15ml) Olive Oil
1 tablespoon (15ml) Tomato Purée
6 oz/200g Prunes, soaked in very hot water for 30 minutes

1 tablespoon (15ml) Honey

1 heaped teaspoon (7ml) Cornflour dissolved in a little cold water (optional)

To serve - 1 tablespoon (15ml) Sesame Seeds (optional)

Method

1. Trim off any surplus fat from the beef, then cut it into large bite-size pieces. Any pieces of jelly-like 'gristle' will dissolve during the cooking process and enrich the sauce.

2. Heat half the butter & oil over a low heat and 'sweat' the chopped onions until they are translucent (about 5 minutes), then add the garlic followed by the Ras el Hanout and mix well in. Cook this mixture for a further two minutes.

3. Put this onion mixture in a heavy-based casserole/saucepan ot tagine (if you have one) - then return the frying pan to the heat.

4. Add the remaining butter & oil, increase the heat to medium.

5. When the pan starts to smoke, add the beef pieces and turn them over so they seal and turn dark on all sides.

6. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the beef to the onion mixture.

7. Add the fresh coriander to the pan, then add enough water to barely cover the mixture, then add the tomato purée.

8. Stir until the mixture combines.

9. Bring to the boil, then simmer very slowly for about 90 minutes (this can equaly-well be done in the oven 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4).

10. After this time, fish out the bunch of coriander - being careful to remove the string.

11. Add the Prunes, drained of the water, plus the honey, and cook for a further 30 minutes.

12. Taste the sauce for seasoning, you will perhaps need a little salt - but if your spice mix contains pepper - not pepper.

13. If you would like you sauce a little thicker, dissolve a heaped teaspoon of Cornflour in a little water and stir this in.

Serve with couscous or rice and perhaps a scattering of sesame seeds which you have dry-roasted until golden.

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Flavours of North Africa
Flavours of North Africa