Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you planned. But – then again – that isn’t always a bad thing. Yesterday I wanted to make a tagine. One of those fragrance filled Morrocan stews made from simmering chicken, veal or lamb for hours on end filling the house with warm flavors. Well, I sort of made it… The result was great, but a tagine? Let’s just say it wasn’t exactly hallal.
I flipped through Claudia Roden’s great book om Middle Eastern food Arabesque and found the tagine I wanted to make: Tagine of lamb with caramelized babyonions and quinces. Equipped with my shopping list I went to town but, alas, no luck finding the piece of lamb I wanted. It seemed that the meat section of my supermarked mad been attacked by Father Christmas and the ever present, especially around this time of year, cuts of pig. Luckily, it wasn’t just any old pig that had delivered the cuts but one from Grambogård, a small farm that makes excellent dairy and meat products.
As no lamb was in sight, I thought why not, let’s go global and make a tagine inspired stew with jaws of pork! Jaws is one of the most overlooked cuts. When cooked properly, the meat becomes extremely tender, you could literally chew it your eyebrows, as the Morrocans say. So there you go – maybe not a traditional tagine, but definitely one to try. As for the quince idea, I must admit I forgot all about preparing them in the excitement, so I opted for a quicker solution and used pears in stead.
Here’s the general idea: Brown the jaws in olive oil (two per person), add chopped onions a couple of crushed garlic cloves and spices (I used a mix of coriander and fennel seeds, a stick of cinnamon and a pinch of safron). Sautee for a couple of minutes before adding water or stock. The jaws should be covered. Season with salt and plenty of pepper. Bring to the boil and skim off any foam that forms. Leave to simmer with the lid on at low heat for an hour and a half.
Meanwhile caramelize the onions (I used shallots) by soaking them in boiling water before peeling. Then sautee in oil until browned. Add the onions to the stew and continue cooking for half and hour. Remove the onions and meat and reduce the sauce. If necessary add sugar, salt and lemon juice to taste. While the sauce is reducing, slice up a pear or two and brown in butter until the cutting side is browned. I used Doyenne – that worked well. When the sauce is reduced add meat, onions and pears and serve along with couscous and perhaps a salad.