Autumn Mutton and lamb have superb flavour, and hold up well with the spice and fruit of the tagine. We have a load of quince in the shop at the moment, thanks to a glut from a customer’s tree. They are odd shaped and beautifully scented, and this is an excellent use for them. Depending on numbers, you could have a whole shoulder on the bone, but this uses diced shoulder.
1.8kg boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed & diced into 4cm cubes
Extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, diced
4 quince, peeled, seeded and quartered
1 head garlic, unpeeled and halved across its equator
A thumb of fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced
1 tsp ground ginger
3 bay leaves
A large pinch of saffron threads
½ cinnamon stick
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp chilli flakes
400g chopped tomatoes with their juices
1 Salt the lamb at least an hour before cooking, preferably overnight. Bring to room temperature.
2 Set a Dutch oven or heavy based pot over a medium-high heat and coat the bottom in oil. Brown the lamb in small batches on all sides, then transfer to a bowl. Pour out the fat and return to the heat, deglaze the pan with water and add to the lamb.
3 Return the pot to a medium heat and and fry the onion, quince, garlic, herbs and spices in oil until the onions are brown and soft.
4 Add the tomatoes to the quince mix and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the lamb and its liquid. Add enough stock or water to come about ⅓ of the way up the sides of the meat, then add about 300ml more. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover the tagine partially with a lid. Stirring occasionally, continue simmering the meat until tender – about 2 hours.
5 Season to taste, removing any fat from the surface. Serve with steamed couscous and herbed yoghurt.