Recently I walked into Williams-Sonoma and was intrigued by a Tunisian tagine. It's the name of a hand-painted and glazed terra-cotta pot, as well as, the spicy dishes that are slowly simmered in it. Tagines are at the heart of Moroccan cooking and are characterized by their rich, complex sauces.
The clay pot has two parts, a flat, circular base and a dome-shaped cover that fits inside the base during cooking. When placed in an oven, the top is designed to return all the juices to the bottom, continually basting the food to moisten and tenderize it, intensifying its favors. You end up with a hearty medley of meat, vegetables and savory tastes. Comfort food, North African style!
In addition to traditional Moroccan stews [recipes here], you can use a tagine to prepare seriously, succulent beef shot ribs. The tagine can be used on a stovetop with a heat diffuser. Here's a mouthwatering recipe from William-Sonoma:
Red Wine Braised Short Ribs
3 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 celery stalk, diced
2 carrots, diced
¾ cup finely diced shallot
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoon tomato paste
¾ teaspoon crushed Aleppo chili
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
½ cup beef broth
¾ cup red wine
Mashed potatoes for serving
1) Soak the tagine according to manufacturer's instructions. Place the tagine on a diffuser over medium-high heat; warm 1 tablespoon oil. Season the ribs with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour; shake off excess. Brown half of the ribs on all sides, about 10 minutes total; transfer to a plate. Repeat with 1 tablespoon oil and the rest of the ribs.
2) Reduce heat to medium; warm 1 tablespoon oil. Cook the celery, carrots and shallot for 7-8 minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste; cook 1 minute. Add the Aleppo chili, thyme, broth, wine, salt and pepper; bring to simmer. Return the ribs to the tagine. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook, turning ribs occasionally, until tender, about 4 ½-5 hours. Makes 4 servings.