Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash

Tonight’s dinner was sponsored by my friend Tracie and her husband Jason.  I visited them over the weekend and came home with the world’s largest butternut squash.  What to do, what to do?  I also had a few tomatoes left from the major canning effort yesterday that I roasted today with just a little salt and pepper.  Needed to use those too.  A quick search on CookingLight.com and I ended up with this lovely beef tagine.  Tagine?  What’s that?  A tagine is a North African style stew with meat and vegetables – most often cooked in a pot with a cone shaped top, also called a tagine.

I have a tough time with North African/Moroccan cuisine.  I’m not a huge fan of cinnamon in savory dishes and that’s an oft used combination in this variety of food.  So the fact that I’d make this again speaks pretty highly of it.  The tomatoes in this stew are a nice balance for the cinnamon.  And the lack of lemon juice is a pleasant surprise. Something about the combination of cinnamon and lemon just says “dessert” to me.  I made a couple of substitutions.  I didn’t have any shallots so I used 1/2 a sweet onion.  I also only have smoked paprika so I used that.  I think that added some nice depth to the flavor.  Also, a shout out to my friend Kristin for growing/drying/grinding and gifting the cayenne.  It’s powerful and yummy.  Finally, roasting the tomatoes added some intense tomato flavor.  It’s not critical, but was a very nice touch.  One more note about the ingredients.  I used pasture fed stew beef from Deer Run farm.  Honestly, it was fine, but I’ll go back to Greenway Beef from now on because the flavor is just better.  The folks there are lovely, but the beef was a little tough.  To be fair stew beef probably needed to cook longer than this recipe requires.  Next time I’ll either use a better cut of beef or I’ll cook the beef longer before I add the squash to the pot.

All in all this is a very good dish.  The picture on the original recipe shows this stew served alongside some couscous with green onions.  That might add an interesting texture, but I think having the stew just as is works well too.  You might wait until the Fall to make this because it will make warm and yummy comfort food and add a touch of the exotic at the same time.

Good? Yes.  Darn good.
Easy? Yes. Stews do most of the work with the top on the pot.
Good for company? Yes. Would make a nice casual supper.
Special shopping? Nope.

Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash

Ingredients

2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (1-pound) beef shoulder roast or petite tender roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 C roasted tomatoes, crushed
3 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 pound)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add beef and onions; toss well to coat.
2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add beef mixture; cook 4 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in broth and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes. Add squash; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until squash is tender. Sprinkle with cilantro.

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