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Specialty Cookware: Buying a Tagine

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Specialty Cookware: Buying a Tagine

If you're looking to add a little variety to your standard kitchen cookware and want to bring something new to the dinner table, consider a tagine.

What Is a Tagine?

These North African cooking pots have two parts: a round base shaped like a shallow bowl and a domed cover. As food cooks, condensation rises into the cone-shaped cover and then drips back into the food, creating a moist, tender and flavorful meal.

A tagine (sometimes spelled tajine) is similar in concept to a Dutch oven. Both can go on the stovetop or inside the oven, and both cook food slowly while holding heat and moisture inside a tightly sealed cooking pot. Once cooking is complete, the base of the tagine is usually used as the serving bowl, cutting down on the dishes you’ll need to wash later.

Tagines are used in North Africa most often to cook a stew of meat and fruit or vegetables that is also called a tagine. The ingredients are highly variable, depending on the region and the preference of the cook. Meats can include:

  • Lamb
  • Chicken
  • Veal
  • Goat
  • Squab

The slow cooking and moisture retention of the tagine allows for the use of less expensive, tougher cuts of meat, which become tender enough to fall easily off the bone after the long cooking period.

Do You Want a Traditional Tagine?

A traditional Moroccan tagine is handmade of glazed clay. Though they are very rustic and fun to display and use, they are generally not safe for use directly on a gas stove, but must have a heat diffuser between the flames and the pot. You will need to season a clay tagine by rubbing it with cooking oil, then heating it gently in the oven, similar to seasoning a cast-iron pot. To avoid risk of your tagine cracking, it’s best to use traditional pots only for oven cooking. Wash the tagine only by hand.

Do You Want a Tagine That Can Do It All?

For a contemporary take on the traditional product, you can buy a glazed ceramic tagine that is safe for use on top of the stove with both gas and electric burners, can go inside the oven, in the microwave, in the dishwasher and even be used in the freezer. You can find tagines in small, 1 quart sizes, useful for cooking a side of couscous or rice, up to 4-quart vessels, which are perfect for making a tagine stew for your family.

Do You Like Cooking With Cast Iron?

If you love the durability and heat retention of cast iron, you will like a tagine that has a cast-iron base and a ceramic dome. These tagines can cook over any type of stove and tolerate very high temperatures in the oven. Like all cast iron cookware, you will want to season the base before use and wash the tagine by hand. You can find cast iron tagines in sizes from 2-quart up to 4-quart.

Whether you love chicken, lamb, eggs or even a vegetable stew, you can cook them in a tagine and end up with a savory, moist and delicious meal that is easy to prepare and wonderful to eat. With entire cookbooks devoted to recipes for the tagine, you’re sure to put your new cooking pot to good use in the kitchen.

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