January 2, 2012

Moroccan stewed beef with prunes and apricots

I had been wanting to make a Moroccan spice-based stew with dried fruits for a while. I figured that the holidays were a great time because a lot of the spices are commonly used this time of year plus I had a bunch of dried fruit left from making sugar plums. I have no real experience or expertise with Moroccan food, but I have been reading about it recently. In the past I've made a Moroccan stewed chicken dish and a butternut squash Moroccan stew. I always love the spice combination in Moroccan recipes...cinnamon, coriander, saffron, ginger... In my mind, any savory dish that contains cinnamon has an exotic feel that I love. I have never been to a Moroccan restaurant or to Morocco, so the only Moroccan food I've ever had are these creations. I plan to get a cookbook soon so I can learn more about this cuisine because I am really enjoying what I've learned thus far.

I made this stew in a Dutch oven, but if you are lucky enough to own a tagine by all means use that. I used beef, but lamb would also work nicely. Serve this stew over some couscous or even some long grain rice. It will serve about four people.  

Moroccan stewed beef with prunes and apricots
about 1 lb. cubed stew beef (preferably grass-fed and organic)
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1-1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
beef stock and water (about 1 to 1-1/2 cups of each)
pinch of saffron
about 1 cup dried pitted prunes
about 1 cup dried unsulphured apricots 
1 tablespoon honey
1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup lightly toasted slivered almonds
minced fresh mint and/or cilantro, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Sprinkle the beef with some salt, pepper, and the flour. Toss to coat. Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the olive oil. When hot, add the beef. Brown the beef on all sides. Remove the beef and set aside on a plate.

Add the onions and garlic to the Dutch oven. Cook for about 1-2 minutes, stirring often. Add a pinch of salt and the ginger, coriander, cayenne, and cinnamon sticks. Stir and cook until the onions become soft. Return the beef to the pot. Add equal parts of beef stock and water until the beef is just covered. Stir to de-glaze. Let the mixture come to a boil. Add the saffron and stir well. Reduce heat to simmer. Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the oven for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. 

Remove from the oven and add the prunes, apricots, honey, and chickpeas. Return to the oven, uncovered, and let cook another 30 minutes or until the sauce reduces slightly and the fruit has plumped up. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.

Top the stew with the almonds and mint/cilantro. Remove cinnamon sticks. Serve over couscous or rice.

What was I cooking one year ago?: sausage gravy
Two years ago?: New Year's Day lentil soup with mint


  1. I love Moroccan flavors and stews and this one looks incredible. Wishing you a very Happy New Year!

  2. A hearty and delicious stew. I love the flavours.

  3. Sounds exotic! Lovely! I make a chicken stew with prunes, which everybody loves..... I never tell my family they are eating prunes! ha! I am sure I would love this also! Wouldn't it be fun to cook with a tagine?

  4. Moroccan food is so much fun to play with!! Stop by and visit my blog sometime for Moroccan recipes. Im an american married to a Moroccan and make traditional as well as fusion Moroccan dishes. Www.marocmama.com

  5. this sounds awesome! i love the addition of prunes and apricots :)

  6. yum! I love adding dried fruit to savory dishes like this. Perfect for winter!

  7. I've never cooked with prunes- what a great idea!

  8. This is calling my name with the cinnamon and dried fruit! It is a powerhouse of flavor that looks super comforting and delicious! Do you know Nisrine? She writes the Moroccan food blog Dinners and Dreams. She has a cookbook too.

  9. Happy New Year Amy!
    This beef dish looks delicious with the fruits in it...love the idea :-) I never had Moroccan food...

  10. Thank you, everyone. Reeni, I don't know her blog, but I've now looked it up and am going to take a look. Thanks!

  11. The spices in Moroccan food never fail to entice me either, so this dish is definitely appealing to me. My kind of comfort food.

  12. Yummy stew, love that sweetish flavour in it.

  13. Happy New Year! I should experiment with Moroccan cuisine more as this sounds delicious!

  14. This was fantastic! Made it last night, with steamed couscous on the side.


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