I recall?my first dinner party with new friends after moving from an?isolated mountain town in Colorado to the bustling urban city of Portland, Oregon.?Most wouldn’t think of Portland as a bustling city, but compared to the hermit lifestyle I?d been living post-college, mixing and mingling with sophisticated?people while sharing an ethnic and?thoughtfully prepared meal was practically?culture shock.
My hostess selected Moroccan food and designed her whole menu around the theme, with lamb tagine as the centerpiece. To say I was impressed would be putting it mildly. Up until that point, I don’t think I’d even tasted Moroccan food, much less cooked it. And when the complex combination of spices first hit my nose and then my tongue, I?was blown away by the array of smells and flavors. For the next few months, I kicked myself repeatedly for not?immediately asking for the recipe. And by the time I did finally ask for it, my hostess?couldn?t locate it, but thought it was in one of her magazines from the summer.
Armed with a list of her subscriptions, I visited my local library and scoured the shelves on?a quest for Moroccan Lamb Tagine. Amazingly, I found the recipe she’d used?in an issue of Sunset, and though I?ve modified the recipe to suit my personal taste, it has since become a staple meal. Especially in colder weather. The heat and the spices warm you to the core, both body and soul.
Some (definitely the ex-boyfriend) would be wagging a finger at me, saying how I ruined a perfectly classic dish by going?against the natural order of things. And maybe they’d be right; my additions might not be not traditional, but I think the changes are sound and create a better overall dish. The original recipe called for lamb (no potatoes, carrots, or currants), but?you’ll just have to trust me?on the improvements (or try both ways and judge for yourself). I think you could also use portobello mushrooms for a vegetarian/vegan alternative.
Enjoy your Moroccan Tagine?with a sweeter style white wine. I selected an Oregon Gruner Veltliner from Reustle Prayer Rock, but I think an off-dry Riesling would be exceptional as well. Alternatively, you could?serve this with?red wine (especially if you make it with lamb), try a young Zinfandel to complement the spice profile.