Top food writer Rose Prince prepares a traditional Moroccan tagine - with the far from traditional pheasant - and lemon couscous. Serves four.
It is essential to remember that pheasant needs a different approach to chicken if used as a substitute. Pheasant, on or off the bone, dries out swiftly even when cooked in liquid — in a casserole, for example. Cook it very gently and it will retain its juices and always be tender.
A tagine is an aromatic stew from Morocco, named after the clay pot with domed lid that it slowly cooks inside. There are a multitude of different versions, but this is an authentic recipe with an extraordinary freshness and fragrance, which is simple to prepare. You need only a heavy-based pan with lid to make it, rather than a real tagine.
For the pheasant
- 80g butter
- 4 medium onions, very finely chopped
- 4 heaped TSP ground coriander seed
- 2 heaped TSP ground ginger
- 1 heaped TSP ground cumin
- 2 heaped TSP freshly ground black pepper
- ½ TSP cayenne pepper
- 1 heaped TSP ground cinnamon
- 1 TSP turmeric
- 100g flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 100g fresh coriander, chopped
- 6 pheasant breast fillets, each cut into 4 pieces
- 10 soft dried figs, halved
- sea salt
For the couscous
- 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
- 100g giant couscous
- 200g couscous
- ½ TSP salt
- 1 lemon, cut in half
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- Melt the butter in a large casserole or heavy-based pan and add the onions. Cook for a few minutes until the onions soften then add all the spices and cook for another minute until they become fragrant.
- Add half of the chopped parsley and coriander, and the pheasant then cover with water. Bring slowly to simmering point then cook very gently — the liquid should be barely bubbling — for 40 minutes.
- Add the figs and simmer slowly for a further 15 minutes, season with salt and add the remaining fresh herbs just before serving.
- Preheat the oven to 100°C. To prepare the couscous, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the giant couscous. Fry it over a low heat until a pale golden brown then add enough water to cover.
- Simmer for five minutes until the couscous is tender — as for pasta. Put the cooked giant couscous and the small-grain couscous in a bowl and add the salt. Pour over enough boiling water to cover by 1cm, then cover with foil or a lid and put in the oven for 10 minutes. The small-grain couscous will absorb the water.
- In the meantime, fry the lemon slices, cut side down, until they brown. Serve the tagine over the couscous in shallow bowls, squeezing over some of the lemon.