Easter feast: lamb, date & apricot tagine
Meat & Livestock Australia has launched its autumn lamb campaign, demonstrating the ease and versatility of cooking with Australian lamb. The campaign is a continuation of the Lamb Legends series, which celebrates everyday Aussie heroes who’ve made a big contribution to the community and shares inspiring stories over simple and delicious dishes.
With the Easter long weekend coming up and temperatures starting to drop, a cosy and warming lamb dish is an ideal choice for any family Easter lunch or dinner. MasterChef alumna Amina Elshafei has provided the ultimate inspiration for long weekend indulgence. She shares a flavourful lamb recipe she’s created to thank a legend.
Celebrating a mentor and guide
In the new series, Elshafei treats educator and autism specialist Kerrie Nelson to a lamb, date and apricot tagine. You’ll find the recipe below. Nelson is the Director and Principal of Giant Steps, a leading educational centre for children with autism. She’s passionate about improving Australia’s understanding of autism and its complex nature. She’s also helped thousands of children reach their full potential while giving families support and guidance. In 2020, she was named Principal of the Year at the Australian Education Awards.
As a paediatric nurse, Elshafei shares Nelson’s passion for inspiring and supporting the next generation. “Kerrie has had a profound impact on the community,” she says. “She’s a mentor for these children and their families as well as a really wonderful guide”.
For Elshafei, lamb has always been a dish for celebrating people. “For Muslims, lamb is incredibly significant,” she says. “We share it after the birth of a baby and during religious festivals. I wanted to cook this dish to celebrate Kerrie’s contribution to the community.”
Lamb, date and apricot tagine with herbed couscous
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 2 hours
For the lamb
1kg boneless lamb shoulder, excess fat trimmed and cut into 5cm cubes
2 tsp Moroccan spice mix (also known as Ras el Hanout)
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil
2 medium brown onions
20 strands of saffron
2 cinnamon sticks
1½ cups vegetable stock
Salt and ground black pepper
½ cup toasted whole blanched almonds
For the fruit compote
¾ cup dried apricots
¾ cup pitted dates
175ml (¾) cup water
2 tbsp honey
½ tsp Moroccan spice mix (Ras el Hanout)
½ tsp ground cinnamon
For the herbed couscous
1½ cups dried couscous
2¼ cups vegetable stock
½ tsp salt
3 tbsp salted butter
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves and stems
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley leaves
1. In a bowl, combine 2 teaspoons of Moroccan spice blend, ground ginger, half a teaspoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix well. Add lamb pieces, massage the spice paste into the meat for a few minutes.
2. Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a tagine or heavy-based pan. Once hot, add the lamb pieces. Cook the pieces until browned.
3. Halve onions and slice into 0.5cm pieces. Add to browned meat. Allow to simmer on medium heat until the onions become translucent.
4. Add saffron, cinnamon sticks and stock. Mix well and bring sauce to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a gentle simmer, cover and cook lamb for 2 hours. If needed, add a few tablespoons of water if there’s not enough liquid during cooking.
5. While the lamb is cooking, make the fruit compote. Add all ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue to cook until 2 tablespoons of liquid remain. Remove from heat and set aside.
6. In the last 15 minutes of meat cooking, mix fruit compote gently with lamb pieces. Remove lid and cook uncovered for 15 minutes on a vigorous simmer until the sauce slightly thickens. After 15 minutes, remove from heat, cover and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
7. While the lamb is resting, prepare the couscous. Combine vegetable stock, butter and salt and heat until boiling. Stir until melted. Add the couscous and mix well into the hot stock. Cover tightly and leave for the grains to absorb liquid for 5 minutes.
8. Fluff couscous grains with a fork, stir through chopped herbs. Place on a serving platter.
9. Garnish tagine with toasted whole blanched almonds and serve hot with couscous.
1. Deboned lamb shanks or lamb leg would also work in place of shoulder.
2. Dates can be replaced with dried raisins or sultanas.
3. This dish can be made in a shallow, heavy-based saucepan with a well-fitted lid.