I love Sunday’s because that’s the day that I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I make it a point to make a roast or stew on Sundays b/c they take long and Sundays give me the leniency to take the time to cook these type of dishes. As you know, tagines are one of my favorite dishes. The Moroccan inspired dishes use spices, but they aren’t overwhelming and always lean towards using warm spices which is perfect for a January dinner. Also, they’re simple and healthy. Seriously. It’s a Mediterranean stew basically, so how hard can that be!
Here are the ingredients you will need for this meal. You can easily substitute lamb for beef – and you can also use bone-in beef/lamb. I used boneless beef b/c it was cheaper. And….that’s how I roll. If you want to check out another tagine recipe, check this one out: Moroccan Beef Tagine with Chermoula and Honey
First, chop up an onion into a 1 inch dice. Brown that in a large tagine or Dutch oven with one tablespoon of olive oil. Season the onion with salt and pepper. Allow that to brown for 2-3 minutes, then throw in the diced cubes of meat. I cut the meat into large-ish pieces, probably 1 ½ inch pieces. They get really tender in the tagine, so I like to keep them large enough that they don’t break down. Season the meat with salt and pepper as well. Add in the garlic at this point as well.
Side note: it’s super important to season at each step while cooking any dish. Putting salt and pepper into a dish only at the very end makes the dish taste like salt & pepper – seasoning the food during the cooking process brings out the flavors of the dish naturally and make it taste delicious without tasting only of salt.
After the meat has browned for a few minutes – pour in 2 cups of beef broth. I forgot to include that in the picture of ingredients you’ll need. You can use water at this step if you want, but the beef broth brings a richness to the dish that is missing since we’re using a boneless cut of meat. I say that because using bone-in meat – any type of meat, in general, has more flavor. Just another tid-bit to add!
Now it’s time to add in our spices: 1 teaspoon each of cumin, cinnamon, ground ginger, and turmeric. Then the other spices: the saffron, chili flakes, salt and pepper and the 2 cinnamon sticks. It’s so beautiful – such an array of colors!
After the spices are in you can add in the remainder of ingredients. 1 large can of diced tomatoes and 4-5 carrots, diced in 1 inch pieces. Check out the carrots I found at the grocery store – they are all different colors! So pretty!
Bring the tagine up to a simmer, then lower the heat to medium and cover with a tight fitting lid. Let that simmer away for an hour and a half, stirring every now and then to make sure it’s not sticking. If you have the heat too high and you notice that the broth has evaporated, just add in more and lower the heat.
While the tagine is simmering away, start on the most delicious component to this dish – the caramelized onions! Thinly slice 2 large onions. This is going to seem like a ton of onions, but believe me, they will decrease in quantity so much and are so delicious, you’ll wish you had more!
Put these in a pan with 1 T. olive oil, salt and pepper, and you can include sugar at this point as well. I had bought sweet onions, so I didn’t include any additional sweetness, but if you’re using regular onions you can throw in 1 t. sugar or sugar substitute to help the caramelization process. This is super important: keep this at a low heat. Seriously, you don’t want to rush these babies. If you put this on a high heat you’ll get fried onions, not caramelized. So don’t rush this. Low and slow…..it will take about 40 minutes to get them to the finished product. Healthy note: if you notice that you’re onions are getting dry – skip adding more oil and add in water. This will save you tons of calories and help keep the onions moist enough to finish caramelizing. Stir the onions often to make sure they are cooking evenly. Once they get to a nice caramel color and are completely tender – they’re done.
After an hour and half the meat and carrots in the tagine should be beautifully tender, but we’re not done yet. Take the lid off the pot and allow the meat to simmer, without a lid, for an additional half hour. This will help make a deliciously rich sauce over the meat. You want enough liquid in the dish to create a sauce, but not enough to classify this as a soup.
Let the tagine sit for 15 minutes to thicken up before serving. To serve, top the tagine with a dollop of the caramelized onions and sprinkle over cilantro pieces. You can serve this over basmati rice, couscous, spaghetti squash, or eat it just with flat bread. I made some basmati rice for N and sprinkled some cilantro on top. Eating it just as is, without rice, is amazing as well. Seriously, so warm and tender – a perfect winter’s night meal. The caramelized onions are essential for this dish – they bring such a great note of sweetness. I hope you enjoy as well!
Moroccan Beef Tagine with Caramelized Onions
2 lb. boneless beef, top round or pot roast cut
3 large white onions – 1 chopped, 2 thinly sliced
1 T. garlic, diced
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
4-5 carrots, peeled and diced
2 cups beef broth, water can be substituted
1 t. cumin
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. turmeric
1 t. ground ginger
¼ t. chili flakes
½ t. saffron threads
2 cinnamon sticks
1 T. salt – used throughout the cooking process
¾ T. pepper – used throughout the cooking process
2 T. olive oil, separated
- Dice 1 onion into 1” pieces. Brown in a large tagine or Dutch oven with 1 T. olive oil, sprinkle with 1 t. salt and 1 t. pepper. Brown for 2–3 minutes.
- While onion browning, cut the beef into 2” pieces. Brown with the onions for 2-3 minutes, sprinkle with 1 t. salt and 1 t. pepper.
- After beef has browned, add in 2 cups of beef broth, the can of diced tomatoes, juices and all, and all the spices, including cinnamon sticks, plus an additional 1 t. salt.
- Stir and bring tagine up to a simmer. Once it begins to simmer, lower the heat to medium and cover the tagine with lid and simmer for an hour and a half, stirring occasionally. If you notice the tagine is getting too dry, add in more broth/water.
- While tagine is cooking, start working on the caramelized onions. Slice 2 large onions very thinly. Heat a pan over low to medium low heat with 1 T. olive oil. Put the sliced onions in the pan and sprinkle over 1 t. salt and ¼ t. pepper. Optional: 1 t. sugar or 1 packet sugar substitute may be added.
- Allow the onions to cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 30-45 minutes or until completely caramelized and tender.
- After tagine has been cooking for an hour and a half, remove the lid from the tagine and continue to cook for 30 minutes, no lid, to thicken the sauce.
- Allow the tagine to cool for 15 minutes before serving. Serve with 2 tablespoons (or more) of caramelized onions on top of the tagine. Can serve with basmati rice, couscous, spaghetti squash, or flat bread.