You wouldn’t believe how easy my Moroccan beef tajine is to make. If my latest cookbook is endowed with so many wonderful recipes, you have my daughter Bella to thank almost as well as me: While I was writing this book, she would call me regularly and ask me with great urgency if I thought of including this or that dish. (“Mommy, how could you leave it out?”) This beef tajine was on top of her must-have repertoire.
A word about Beef Cheeks
Beef cheeks are the best! Lean and butter-tender, they naturally form a magical syrupy gelatinous sauce. A little more expensive than other cuts of braising meats, but a real treat, on par with lamb cuts (especially lamb shanks)
If you can find beef cheeks, that would be ideal for this beef tajine, and indeed for all tajines. It is melt-in-your-mouth tender. Only be sure to rinse it thoroughly before using, as it often errs on the salty side, and whatever you do, never add any salt to the dish. Our kosher meat has ample salt to season the whole dish and then some!
If lamb is what you prefer, this beef tajine will be delicious as a lamb tajine as well. Lamb shanks will work perfectly and are decently priced. They will also yield that gelatinous sauce, the lamb bones being so rich in collagen.
My beef tajine, like all tajines, cooks on a stovetop, which is why it is not only succulent, but also low maintenance. I am often asked if I use the classical earthenware tajine used in our native Moroccan cooking. So sorry but the answer is, I don’t. My main preoccupation is to have my readers realize my recipes in the most accessible way possible, so my greatest recommendation is: get yourself a heavy duty wide bottom 18/10 gauge stainless steel pot.
I couldn’t possibly without it! What would become of all my tajines, my risottos, my fish soups, my Indian puddings? Nonono I MUST have it, that’s all there is to it! I know how you feel about saffron: it does sound insanely expensive. It is often priced at about $60 a box. But you will find that saffron is much more cost effective when you buy it in the large one-ounce size box. And then sometimes you get lucky and the price is great. When you think that an ounce box of saffron will last you a year or more and will make you dozens of fabulous dishes, then you’ll think of it as an awesome bargain.
- 4 pounds lean beef chunks, or beef cheeks thoroughly rinsed, cut into 2-inch squares (or 8 lamb shanks)
- 6 cups water
- 2 large onions, sliced very thin
- Good pinch saffron
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 6-8 sprigs fresh thyme or oregano, leaves only, or 3 tablespoons dry
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- Grated zest of 2 lemons
- Ground pepper to taste
Bring the beef chunks and the water to a boil in heavy broad bottom pot. Reduce the flame to medium, and cook, covered, for two hours. Make sure you don't run out of water (add a little water if necessary). Add the onions, saffron and turmeric and cook, covered, for 1 hour. Uncover, add the thyme, lemon juice, lemon zest and pepper and cook 15 more minutes. Transfer the meat with a slotted spoon onto a platter. Check the liquid in the pot: If it is too thin, reduce on a high flame for a few minutes until thickened, and pour over the meat. Serve hot. Serve with the rice, potato or noodles on the side, so as not to "waste" the lovely sauce on the side dish, but rather, to have the sauce remain integral part of the meat dish. Makes 8 servings.