For the past few weeks, I haven't had much time to think of food history, or indulge in any cooking experiments. Last night, however, I had a spare hour or so, and used it to attempt a lamb tagine with caramelized onions from a recipe I'd cut from a magazine years ago.
The recipe had three stages. First on the list was to cook three Spanish onions down, mix them with raisins, cinnamon, and other spices, and continue cooking until they became caramelized. Then, the meat was to be coated in a similar mix of spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, powdered ginger, salt, black pepper), seared, and cooked until medium rare. Finally, the pan was to be deglazed with a mixture of beef broth and honey, which was to be simmered until it was reduced in volume by about a quarter, and then poured as a sauce over the lamb.
This time, I followed the recipe straight, with only three minor changes:
1) I used cubed lamb instead of lamb chops, as called for in the recipe;
2) I doubled the amount of spice mix for the lamb to make certain all surfaces of the lamb cubes were properly coated, and;
3) I used beef bouillon from a mix instead of beef broth.
It took me about an hour, but was worth it. The onions were an unalloyed success. The lamb was also tasty, though my husband questioned whether the spicing was excessive (and the spices did make my mouth tingle after a while). The sauce didn't really work well. Reducing it didn't really change the sauce's texture, which remained watery and less flavorful than I'd hoped.
The recipe contemplates eating the lamb and onions from a bed of couscous, but by the time I'd finished cooking the lamb and making the sauce I was too hungry to want to take an extra 5 minutes to make couscous. Fortunately, I stock pita pockets in my kitchen, and we ate the lamb and onions in pita pockets, with a green salad on the side. It was an extremely satisfying meal.
EDIT: We had more of the lamb and onions for dinner tonight; they were even better reheated.