This classic tagine recipe with lamb or beef is an easy, delicious way to take advantage of the unique flavor of the quintessential fall fruit—quinces, or safarjal as they’re known in Arabic. As with other Moroccan fruit tagines, this one features savory, aromatic seasoning combined with the sweet flavors of fruit, honey, and cinnamon.
- 1 kilogram (about 2 pounds) beef, or lamb, cut into 2- to 3-inch pieces
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic
- 1 or 2 (2- to 3-inch) pieces cinnamon stick
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ras el hanout
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 7 tablespoons (3.5 ounces) unsalted butter, divided
- 1 small bunch fresh cilantro, tied into a bouquet
- 1 to 1 1/2 kilograms (3 pounds) quinces
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 to 4 tablespoons cooking liquid from the quinces
- 3 to 4 tablespoons broth from the meat
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch salt
Cook the Meat
Set the saffron and cilantro aside.
Place the meat, onions, garlic, remaining spices, oil, and 4 tablespoons of butter in a pressure cooker or heavy-bottomed pot. Stir to mix well, then brown the meat over medium-high heat.
Add the saffron, cilantro, and about 3 cups of water.
Cover and cook with pressure for about 45 minutes, or simmer without pressure for an hour and a half, or until the meat is very tender.
Reserve 3 to 4 tablespoons of the broth, then reduce the remaining liquids until the sauce is thick.
Cook the Quinces
While the meat is cooking, prepare the quinces. Peeling is not necessary, but you may do so. Cut them into quarters or eighths (small quinces may be cut only in half), then core them.
Put the finished sections of quince into a bowl of water as you work to avoid their turning brown.
Drain the quinces and transfer them to a skillet or pot.
Cover with fresh water, add a teaspoon of sugar and bring to a boil.
Simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the quinces are tender but still firm enough to hold their shape.
Drain the quinces, reserving several tablespoons of the poaching liquid in the pot.
Add the reserved broth, remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, cinnamon, sugar, honey, and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until thick syrup forms.
Occasionally stir or turn the quinces to coat them with the syrup on all sides. (Note that using a skillet will allow the quinces to glaze in the syrup without breaking during stirring evenly.)
Discard the cilantro. Place the meat and sauce on a serving platter. Arrange the quinces all around, spooning the syrup over the meat and fruit.
Serve tagines with Moroccan bread or another crusty bread for scooping everything up.