Easter feast: lamb, date & apricot tagine

1st April 2021 | Eativity editors

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 lamb 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, with a flavourful lamb recipe she’s created to thank a Lamb Legend.

A couple of legends: Kerrie Nelson (left) and Amina Elshafei dish up the perfect autumn lamb dish.

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). National Director and Principal of Giant Steps, a leading educational centre for children with autism, Nelson is passionate about improving Australia’s understanding of autism and its complex nature. She has helped thousands of children reach their full potential while giving families support and guidance, and in 2020 was awarded Principal of the Year at the Australian Education Awards.

As a paediatric nurse, Elshafei understands and shares Nelson’s passion for inspiring and supporting the next generation: “Kerrie has a profound impact on the community,” she says. “She is a mentor for these children and their families, and a really wonderful guide”.

For Elshafei, lamb has always been a dish for celebrating people: “Being a Muslim, lamb is incredibly significant to us, as we share lamb after the birth of a baby and during religious festivals. I wanted to cook this lamb, date and apricot tagine to celebrate Kerrie’s inspiring contribution to the community.” You can watch their video here.

To watch the full Lamb Legends series, visit the Australian Lamb website.

Lamb, date and apricot tagine with herbed couscous

Serves 4
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 2 hours

You’ll need:

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
Water

For the fruit compote

¾ cup dried apricots
¾ cup pitted dates
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

Method:

1. In a mixing bowl, combine 2 teaspoons of Moroccan spice blend, ground ginger, half a teaspoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and mix well. Add the lamb pieces and massage the spice paste into the lamb for a few minutes.
2. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a tagine or heavy based sauté pan and, once hot, add the lamb pieces. Cook the lamb pieces until browned.
3. Halve the onions and slice into 0.5cm pieces. Add to the browned meat and allow to simmer on medium heat until the onions become translucent.
4. Add saffron, cinnamon sticks and stock. Mix well and bring the sauce to the boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a gentle simmer, cover and cook the lamb for 2 hours. If needed, add a few tablespoons of water if there is not enough liquid during cooking.
5. While the lamb is cooking, make the fruit compote by adding all the ingredients into a saucepan and bringing to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook until the fruit compote is left with 2 tablespoons of liquid. Remove from the heat and set aside.
6. In the last 15 minutes of lamb 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 lamb tagine with toasted whole blanched almonds and serve hot with couscous.

Tips:

• Deboned lamb shanks or lamb leg would also work in place of shoulder.
• Dates can be replaced with dried raisins or sultanas.
• This dish can be made in a shallow, heavy-based saucepan with a well fitted lid.