This lamb tagine in a roasted pumpkin is a hearty way to enjoy Middle Eastern flavors. Full of carrots, tomatoes, chickpeas, garlic, harissa, and lamb, you’ll find yourself craving this often. Serve with couscous and a slice of the pumpkin bowl for a satisfying dinner.
This beautifully spiced Moroccan lamb tagine stands on its own. But for a show-stopping presentation, serve it in a whole roasted pumpkin. Look for a cooking pumpkin, which is smaller and has a thicker shell and tastier flesh than the jack-o’-lantern variety. Once you learn how to roast a whole pumpkin, use it as an edible bowl for other stews—chili, for example. (You can instead roast the pumpkin or any winter squash and serve it sliced into wedges with the lamb tagine ladled on top.) As for the tagine, take care not to overcook it. The lean leg of lamb will not need to be stewed as long as tougher cuts of lamb.–Rick Rodgers
LC HAR-WHO-SA? NOTE
Harissa—pronounced “huh ree suh” by those familiar with it and “har-who-sa” the first time we encountered it—is a very hot chile paste made fragrant with spice. It’s a common condiment in Middle Eastern and North African cooking and is available at some grocery stores as well as many specialty food stores. If your harissa comes in a can, transfer the chile paste to a small jar, cover, and refrigerate for up to 2 months.
Lamb Tagine in a Roasted Pumpkin
For the roasted pumpkin
- Olive oil for the baking sheet
- One 4-pound cooking pumpkin such as sugar pumpkin or cheese pumpkin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the lamb tagine
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless leg of lamb well trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more to taste
- 2 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium canned chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon harissa or more to taste (or substitute hot pepper sauce or Chinese chili paste with garlic)
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2 carrots cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
- One (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes drained
- One (15- to 19-ounce) can garbanzo beans (chickpeas) drained and rinsed
- Cooked couscous for serving
Roast the pumpkin
- Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet.
- Using a sturdy paring knife, cut into the pumpkin top around the stem to create a lid about 6 inches in diameter. Lift off the lid and set aside. Using a large metal spoon, scrape out the fibers and seeds from inside the pumpkin and discard them or reserve the seeds for making roasted pumpkin seeds.) Season the inside of the pumpkin shell and lid with the salt and pepper. Return the lid to the pumpkin and place the pumpkin on the baking sheet. Bake until the inside of the pumpkin is tender when the interior flesh is scraped with a spoon (remove the lid to check), about 1 1/4 hours.
Make the lamb tagine
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the lamb with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Working in batches, add to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. (The lamb should be rare at this point.) Using a slotted spoon, transfer the lamb to a plate.
- Add the stock to the pot and bring to a boil, stirring to release the browned bits in the bottom of the pot. Pour the stock from the pot into a large glass measuring cup or heatproof bowl. Transfer 1/2 cup stock to a small bowl and stir in the harissa to make a very spicy seasoning sauce for the finished tagine. Set the harissa sauce aside. Reserve the remaining stock.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pot and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden, about 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the ginger, cinnamon, and hot pepper flakes and cook for 15 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes, then the reserved chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes. Return the lamb and any collected juices to the pot, and stir in the garbanzo beans. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook just until the beans are heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- To serve the lamb tagine, carefully transfer the roasted pumpkin to a platter. Remove the lid, ladle in the tagine, and replace the lid. (Do not worry if all of the tagine won’t fit into the pumpkin; simply reserve it in a serving bowl.) Present the pumpkin at the table. Spoon the lamb tagine onto individual rimmed plates or shallow bowls. When the tagine is served and the pumpkin is empty, cut the pumpkin into wedges and place them alongside the tagine. Serve the lamb tagine immediately, with the couscous and harissa sauce passed on the side.
Originally published November 19, 2008