This week Celebrity Chef from Ready Steady Cook & Master Chef Steven Saunders, proprietor of The Little Geranium in La Cala uses up some Halloween pumpkin for a Tagine of Lamb served up to Chico and pop band Bucks Fizz.
IN preparation for our Halloween week at The Little Geranium (starting October 30 ends November 3) I was carving some pumpkins, as you do… Michele came over and said but what do you do with all the pumpkin flesh?
“Well I make a soup or a pie with it”, I said, “or I could do a lamb and pumpkin tagine.”
It came to mind from the memory of cooking for a dear friend around Halloween time who has been on my mind and in my dreams for the last few weeks.
He is Chico, famous from X factor and for knocking Madonna off the top No1 spot with his hit Chico Time!
The reason he has been on my mind is because he recently had a stroke. He is ok and recovering rapidly but he’s in my thoughts, especially from something my brother said.
So I was cooking in my little kitchen like any normal day and my mobile rings. Now all of my family and friends know not to call me during cooking hours so I took the call in case it was urgent.
Have you heard the sad news my brother said? Chico died he said. I was speechless and felt ill and cold. I sent the dish I was cooking and went over to the table to see if they were ok. The guests looked at me and said what’s wrong, you look pale and sad. So I told them about the terrible news. Before I could finish one of them said …he is not dead he just had a stroke.
He had heard about it on the news that day. I immediately messaged Danni his wife and she confirmed that he was in hospital in good care and will recover quickly due to his fitness.
So what has all this to do with a tagine of lamb? Well, it was a dish I once cooked for Chico and his friends – he is of Moroccan origin. Chico is a pretty fussy eater due to his fitness regime. I cooked this at an event that he was hosting, it was a Ready steady Cook event with David Van Day as my assistant (formerly of Bucks Fizz)
He swapped hats with me and his was so wide I could barely see what I was cooking! I had some lamb and I turned it into a tagine but a speedy 20 minute version, keeping the lamb pink. Tagine or Tajine is a Moroccan dish named after the dish that it is cooked in. It’s an ancient African/Arabic dish dating back as far as the 9th century. The Arabs added the dried fruits like apricots, dates, sultanas, plums and nuts. There are many recipes for a tagine, mine is influenced a bit by the Moors by adding olives as they are plentiful here in Spain, but you can add or subtract some of the things to get the flavours you love in this delicious stew. It is ideal for all the horrible weather we have been having recently. Serve with lots of fresh coriander and parsley on top and if you have a tagine dish it adds the wow factor.
Serve with couscous traditionally or rice or even potatoes, there are no hard and fast rules. I often add vegetables like the pumpkin or squash or even carrots so that’s like a one pot dish with everything you love in it. Do try it and enjoy!
Ingredients serves 4
- 2 flat tsp cayenne pepper or hot chilli powder
- 2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp of mild paprika or pimiento dulce
- 1tbsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp of coriander seeds
- 1 x shoulder of lamb trimmed and cut into 5cm/2in chunks (about 1.5kg meat in total)
- 2 large onions sliced
- 3 cloves garlic crushed
- 250ml tomato juice
- 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
- 120g approx. dried apricots, cut in half
- 50g dates cut in half
- 85g flaked almonds toasted
- 2 tbsp of of black pitted olives
- 3 tbsp of chopped pumpkin ( or squash) in 1 cm cubes
- 500ml lamb stock or chicken stock
- 1 glass of red wine
- 1 tbsp honey
- Juice of 3 whole lemons
- 4tbsp fresh coriander roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp flat leaf parsley roughly chopped
- 3 tbsp Olive oil or Argan oil ( Moroccan oil ) for frying
- Put the cayenne, black pepper, paprika, coriander seeds, ground ginger, and cinnamon in a bowl and mix well. Toss the lamb through the spices so that they stick to the meat and keep left over spices. If you have time cover the lamb and leave overnight in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas2.
- Heat the olive oil or argan oil in a large casserole dish. Add the onion and the pumpkin chunks and the remaining spices and cook over a gentle heat for a few minutes so that the onions are soft but not coloured. Now add the crushed garlic and stir well.
- In a separate frying pan, brown the cubes of spiced lamb on all sides then add the lamb to your casserole dish. Pour in the tomato juice and mix well.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, apricots and dates and warm the lamb stock in a pan and then add it to the casserole dish. Add the red wine. Bring it all to the boil then cover with a fitted lid and put in the oven and cook for 2-2½ hours or until the meat is soft and tender.
- Remove from the oven and put back on the stove on a gentle heat.
- Now taste, add the honey and the olives, the lemon juice and finally the almonds.
- Spoon the lamb in a tagine dish with lots of the sauce (or a large serving dish) and sprinkle over the chopped coriander and parsley. Serve.
You can email Steven for any questions or bookings at:
Steven Saunders FMCGB
The Little Geranium
La Cala de Mijas (Behind the Town Hall)