Lamb Tagine with Artichokes, Olives and Lemons

For Lamb tagine with artichokes, olives and preserved lemons, Moroccan cooks prefer baby artichokes, but you can use fresh medium artichokes to produce a good dish. Avoid tinned artichoke bottom or frozen artichoke hearts.

Serves 6 people

1.3 kg (2 ½ lbs) lamb shoulder or leg, cut into 3cm (1 ½”) chunks
12 small artichokes or 4 medium artichokes
1 medium onion, grated
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crashed
½ cup red olives, such as Kalamatas or Gaetas
1 preserved lemons, rinsed and cut into quarters
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
½ teaspoon turmeric
pinch of pulverised saffron
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

Place the lamb chunks, onion, garlic, spices, herbs and oil in a 5-quart deep casserole. Cover with 225 ml (sup>1/3pint) water and bring to the boil over high heat. Immediately reduce the heat, cover and simmer over moderate heat until the meat is tender and the sauce has reduced to a thick gravy, about 1 ½ hours. Turn the meat often and add water whenever necessary.

Prepare the artichokes by removing the outside dark and medium green leaves and trimming the base. Cut each one in half from top to bottom. If you are using medium artichokes, use a spoon to remove the hairy choke from the centre. Place the artichokes in a large bowl of cold water with 2 tablespoons of vinegar. This will keep them from blackening while you’re waiting for the sauce to be ready. Rinse and drain before using.

When the lamb is tender, place the artichokes and the preserved lemon quarters on top. Cover and cook for a further 30 minutes, until the artichokes are tender and ready. Add the olives and lemon juice and simmer for 2 minutes.

To serve, arrange the artichokes, flat side up, around the rim of your serving dish. Place the lamb at the centre and pour over the sauce. Decorate with the olives and lemon quarters.