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Chef Jon Ashton Moroccan Lamb Stew

This Traditional Dish Will Fill Your Kitchen with the Aromas of Colorful, Cultural Adventure

In the souks of Morocco, the tradition of centuries of artisans and tradespeople lives on in a dizzying atmosphere of color and sound. These marketplaces are flooded with goods and crafts from hand-woven tapestries and clothing to intricate ceramic cookware and leather pieces. Among the most enticing areas of any Moroccan souk are those occupied by the spice traders, peddling saffron, paprika, cayenne, harissa cinnamon and others commonly found in the local cuisines. The aromas wafting through the air in these tantalizing corridors will soon be wafting through your own home kitchen, down the hallways and under the noses of your favorite dinner companions, as we prepare for a traditional lamb tagine with Chef Jon Ashton.

The tagine itself – a ceramic pot with a funnel-topped lid that allows the steam to rise and results in unbelievably tender meat – is said to date back to ancient Roman times, although over the years, its design and use have become synonymous with Moroccan cuisine. Many are colorfully adorned with painted designs, making them a lovely addition to a kitchen’s aesthetic. And while this ancient tool is still the go-to piece and method for preparing Moroccan stews, modern inventions offer convenient options and equally mouthwatering dishes. Dutch ovens, slow cookers and heavy-bottomed pots are all acceptable tools of the trade for this week’s recipe.

The ingredient list is long and exotic, so check the detailed recipe below carefully as you prep your pantry for Sunday Cooking with Chef Jon Ashton on Sunday, September 27. Join us then on the Crystal Cruises Facebook page. We’ll see you in the kitchen.

Moroccan Lamb Stew
By Chef Jon Ashton

3 pounds (1.4 kg) Lamb stew meat, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 teaspoons (10 ml) kosher salt
4 cups chicken stock (946 ml)
10 dried apricots
10 dried prunes (optional) 
1/2 cup (75 grams) golden raisins (optional)
Generous pinch saffron
3 tablespoons (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
4  (2-inch-long) strips zest from 1 lemon, trimmed of white pith
1 cup (140 grams) pitted green Greek olives, halved
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 small cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground cumin
1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground coriander 
1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground turmeric
1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground black pepper
1 cup (240 ml) marinara sauce (homemade or Rao’s)
6 carrots, peeled, sliced 1 1/2 inch thick
1 tablespoon (15 ml) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (57 grams) slivered almonds, toasted 
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (divided)
Fresh lemon juice, to taste

In a large bowl, combine lamb and kosher salt. Let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour. 

In a small pot, bring chicken stock to a boil. Remove from heat. Add apricots, prunes and golden raisins, and let them rehydrate for at least 15 minutes. Reserve.

Heat oven to 325 degrees F (163 degrees C).  

Place saffron in a small bowl and add 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) warm water and let bloom.

In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, warm 2 tablespoons (30 ml) oil over medium heat until hot. Working in a few batches, dry the lamb with paper towel and add lamb to pot.  Don’t over crowd as it will cool the pan and it won’t brown properly. Cook until nicely browned on all sides. Transfer pieces to a tray as they brown.

Add onions to the pot and a pinch salt. Cook until soft, about 8 minutes.  Add lemon zest, olives, garlic, cinnamon stick and the spices, and cook until fragrant, about 1 – 2 minutes. 

Add the tomato sauce, carrots, reserved dried fruits and stock, half the cilantro, and browned lamb with any juices on the plate, back to the pot. Cover the pot with foil and then top foil with the lid. Cook in the oven for 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until the lamb is tender, stirring it occasionally.  

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat the butter over medium heat.  Add the almonds and a pinch of salt, and cook until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. 

To serve, transfer the lamb and juices to a serving platter. Top with toasted almonds and any butter left in the small skillet and remaining cilantro. Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice to taste. Serve with flatbread or couscous (optional).

Serves 8 – 10.

Couscous with Crasins and Almonds 

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

2 cups couscous (330 Grams)

2 cups chicken broth  (250 ML)

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted  (50 grams)

1 cup dried  Craisins (158 grams)

2  tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (30 ml)

1 tablespoons lemon juice (15 ml)

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add couscous and cook, stirring frequently, until grains begin brown and smell nutty, about 5 minutes. Add broth, and small pinch salt; stir briefly to combine, cover pan with lid, and remove pan from heat. Let stand until liquid is absorbed and couscous is tender, about 7-10 minutes. Uncover and fluff couscous with fork.

Combine almonds, crasins, oil and lemon juice in large bowl. Stir in couscous until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Crystal voyages sail itineraries to Morocco, including Casablanca, Tangier and Agadir, exploring the fascinating cultural melting pot of the country and its stunning landscapes.

Crystal’s Crystal@Home: A Virtual Cruise Experience program brings several elements of the renowned Crystal Experience directly to guests, wherever in the world they are. “Sunday Cooking with Chef Jon Ashton” represents the culinary excellence found aboard Crystal ships, as some of the greatest travel memories are created over the greatest meals.

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