Veal tagine with fresh peas and lemon
This dish, which hails from Morocco, makes a wonderful supper in springtime, when peas come into season. Initial preparation is quick, but the tagine, or stew, needs to simmer for more than an hour, so be sure to begin in plenty of time.
Choose a lean cut of veal, preferably shoulder or rump. And be sure to use fresh peas, as you will not achieve the same results with frozen peas. Although fresh peas take time to shell, I find it a very pleasurable activity — one of my rites of spring. But if you’re in a hurry, many supermarkets these days sell fresh peas that are already shelled.
You will need a large, heavy-bottomed skillet or stewing pot with a cover.
1 pound (500 g.) shoulder or rump of veal
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 whole garlic cloves, unpeeled
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp. honey
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 cup fresh peas, shelled
Cut the veal into large cubes, trimming away any excess fat. Pat the cubes dry with a paper towel.
Heat the olive oil to sizzling in a large skillet. Add the veal cubes and sauté over high heat until they are a rich golden brown on all sides. When the veal is partially browned, after about three minutes, add the garlic cloves in their peels.
While the veal is browning, slice the lemon in half lengthwise. Squeeze the juice of one half into a small dish. Discard the seeds. Slice the other half into two lengthwise slices. Tie the stems of the cilantro together with string.
When the veal is browned, turn down the heat to very low. Add the lemon juice, water and honey. Sprinkle with salt and grind on some black pepper. Add the lemon slices. Place the cilantro on top. From this point on, do not stir.
Cover the skillet and simmer gently. After one hour, add the peas and continue cooking for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary.
This recipe is adapted from ‘Petit Larousse des Recettes du Potager’, a wonderful book (in French) featuring creative cooking with garden vegetables.