What Is It?
The dish and the pot have become synonymous. This is a tagine, the pot in which you cook tagine—the traditional stew-like concoction made by the Berbers in North Africa. There are two pottery pieces, the lid that looks like a tepee and the base.
How Does It Work?
First, you have to season it by coating it with a bit of olive oil and then baking it in an oven. (Start the oven out cold and let it preheat it with the tagine inside per the manufacturer’s instructions.) After it’s cooled down, put meat, vegetables, and spices in it and set it on a very low heat (yup, this is a stovetop number). The steam circulates and condenses inside the lid so that the food doesn’t dry out.
Again, like the clay baker, the more you use it, the more the pottery soaks in the awesome spices.
Do I Really Need It?
As with all stew-type dishes, the benefit of the long, low simmer is that you can use cheaper cuts of meat and still get the quality taste. That’s why I have a slow cooker, you say. But, how much cooler do you look bringing this bad boy to the table than that “ready to serve” insert from your electric gadget?
Plus, tagine spices warrant a tagine cooking experience. If you love Moroccan food, then you kind of have to go old school. (OK, don’t get your undies in a bunch. I know that the Tunisians make a fine tagine as well. I just have never been to a Tunisian restaurant—and I’ve been to Moroccan.)
What really sold me on the whole tagine experience is ordering a breakfast version at Medina Cafe in Vancouver, Canada. Pretty spot on way to cook eggs.
Where Can I Buy My Very Own?
You don’t even have to go to Africa. Williams-Sonoma made this number, but several companies make them in a variety of colors and prices. You can even get cast iron versions, but that defeats the purpose of aging the earthenware.