..It’s Driving me Mad, It’s Making Me Crazy!

Sorry I’ve been AWOL on the “Food with Frank” side of the house … to say it’s been crazy of late would be an understatement. To add insult to injury, this post isn’t about a cool meal with cool, fun people … but I need to ply you anyway because I’ve found the coolest new (to me) cooking implement — I have to share.

I’m not strong with the North African food force — my bent leans much more toward the Southern Euro side of the Mediterranean. And I’ve always found the rules around earthenware cooking to be onerous … break in, temperature issues, cleaning issues … too much to worry about before I even start thinking of what I want to cook in the damn thing!

That all changed…

…when I came across a lamb, potato and chickpea Tagine recipe, and was introduced to the Emile Henry ceramic 3.7 qt Tagine. (In case you’re wondering — and I was — “Tagine” can mean the cooking implement as well as the food/dish it renders … sort of like “casserole”.) This thing is awesome! It’s a blend of space age ceramics and age old design that delivers amazing food in the cooking style of a traditional tagine without the earthenware madness.

Go check it out for yourself … I won’t repeat all the product details here that you can find en mass on the web, but there are a couple of key points that make this thing rock the house.

  • It can handle the heat — I mean really high heat directly applied without a diffuser. This is a difference maker for me because it means you can brown off the protein in the tagine without worrying the thing will crack to pieces. I’ve browned lamb and chicken at high temp with no issues at all. This ability alone is crazy cool for a cooking vessel that has all the other cooking attributes of a traditional tagine.
  • It’s big (if you get the 3.7 qt version … there’s also a 2.6 qt size). There can be a lot of ingredients in a tagine recipe and the resulting food saves wonderfully (like a braise or stew) so more room is better.
  • From what I can tell, when you lower the flame and ask it to do it’s tagine magic (steam condensation running back down the dome … almost like a pressure cooker but rendering a better result IMO) it acts just like the glazed earthenware version.
  • In fact, it cooks so much like it’s earthenware cousins that it has the same downside — poor heat conductivity. It’s is still a glazed clay … magic super clay but still clay which means hot spots where the flame lands. So even though you don’t need to use a diffuser (I’ve cooked in EH tagine now three times without using one just fine) you CAN use a diffuser if you want or need more even heating for a particular recipe.
  • It cleans up easy-peasy … you can even toss it in the dishwasher if you want.
  • OK … there is one break-in step, but it’s super easy and only takes about 20-30 minutes. Heat enough milk to cover the bottom of the tagine — just until steaming/near the boil — then turn the fire off and let the milk cool in the tagine. That’s it. I think the first time the pan is heated, micro cracks form on the glazed surface and the milk somehow fills the cracks?! Weird but easy … and whatever it did it works.

What comes out of this weird looking thing?

© cookinginsens.wordpress.com

Succulent meats and perfectly cooked vegetables. Like I mentioned at the top, I’m not big on Moroccan fare as a rule … to much “apple pie spice” (cardamon, cloves, cinnamon and the like) and fruit (dates, raisins…) for my savory sensibilities … BUT, I love how this thing cooks!

Tweak the recipes to accommodate my Lebanese, Persian/Indian spice orientation and man this thing rocks. Check it out, buy one … cook great stuff in it!

 

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  • what will you throw in if I act now?

    • Anonymous

      Uh… my favorite lamb tagine recipe?! 😉

      scox