Kumquat Lamb Tagine

Kumquat Lab Tagine - spice cured pork breast

This kumquat lamb tagine isn’t traditional, and requires a bit of forethought, but it’s honestly one of the best braised lamb dishes I’ve ever tasted. The briny, spicy braised lamb is offset by the sweet, tangy kumquat sauce and the meat is meltingly tender while still retaining its shape, thanks to the curing.

One of the things I love about participating in collaborative cooking events such as Forage & Feast this past weekend is that it gives me a chance to bounce my ideas of others, while learning new techniques from the many brilliant minds that participate.

At this particular event, I picked up several techniques (including the use of ziplock bags to make ice cream), but the one that really stuck with me was the process of spice curing meat for a few days before braising it. This was one of Stephane’s many contributions to the meal, and as a course of braised pork with sauteed ramps, morels and pickled ramps, it was my favourite.

Spice cured lamb breast for lamb and kumquat tagine

Excited to apply this spice curing technique with a different mix of flavours, I rummaged through the freezer looking for a suitable cut of meat. Wagyu beef would have been a waste… pork chops, too lean… pork cheek might have worked, but what I was really looking for was a vacuum sealed pack of lamb breast at the very bottom of the freezer. At about $2 a pound, it’s one of the cheapest cuts, and yet with its high fat content and flavourful meat, it’s perfect for slow roasting or braising in a dish such as this.

Onions and kumquats caramelizing for kumquat lamb tagine

The salt in the rub removes some of the water from the meat giving it a pleasantly firm texture, even after braising for a few hours. When the meat is nearly tender, it’s removed and added to a mixture of caramelized onions, kumquats, honey and some braising liquid to finish. As the sauce reduces, it forms a sweet glaze that coats everything, giving the dish a salty/sweet contrast similar to a honey glazed ham.

I served this on a bed of cous cous, but it would be good on rice, quinoa or other grain/pasta of your choice.

Kumquat Lamb Tagine Recipe

for spice rub
2 whole cinnamon sticks
1 1/2 tsp whole coriander seed
1/2 tsp whole cumin seed
1/4 tsp whole fennel seed
1/4 tsp all spice
8 whole cloves
3 green cardamom pods
1 tsp black peppercorns
1/4 C kosher salt (use less if using regular table salt)
3 lbs lamb breast

for braising
water
1/2 large onion roughly chopped
1 large carrot roughly chopped
1 large celery stalk roughly chopped
1 cinnamon stick
2″ piece of ginger sliced

for tagine
1 large onion sliced thin
1/2 lbs kumquat cut in half, seeds removed
1 1/2 cups of braising liquid
braised lamb breasts
1/2 C honey
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground cloves

Put the cinnamon, coriander, cumin, fennel, all spice, cloves and cardamom in a small pan and toast until fragrant, moving constantly with a swirling motion to prevent them from burning. Put the toasted spices in a blender with the salt and pepper and grind. Pour the mixture over the lamb breasts and rub to coat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 48 hours.

When the lamb is done curing, rinse off all the extra spices and salt, then add them to a heavy bottomed pot along with the onion, carrot, celery, cinnamon stick and ginger. Cover with water then bring to a boil. Skim off any brown foam and fat that accumulates. Cover and turn down the heat to low. Cook until the ribs are almost tender (about 1 1/2 to 2 hours), skimming off any fat periodically.

Remove the ribs from the liquid and strain the broth into a bowl, discarding the solids. Wash out the pot and return to medium heat with a splash of oil. Saute the onions and kumquats until the onions are tender and just starting to brown. Add the rest of the ingredients for the tagine and simmer uncovered until the liquid is mostly gone.

Garnish with mint or cilantro and serve with cous cous or rice.

  • http://constableslarder.com/ Giff

    looks fabulous Marc. I don’t normally do fruit and meat but I can see how this would really work well.

  • http://constableslarder.com Giff

    looks fabulous Marc. I don’t normally do fruit and meat but I can see how this would really work well.

  • http://souvlakiforthesoul.com/ Peter G

    I love the philosophy behind this Marc…great technique! I love the choice of meat and great thinking to combine it with the kumquats.

  • http://souvlakiforthesoul.com Peter G

    I love the philosophy behind this Marc…great technique! I love the choice of meat and great thinking to combine it with the kumquats.

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com/ Jenni

    Fantastic! Love the dry rub/cure (thanks to Stephane for that one). I can just about taste the sweet/oniony glaze and the contrast between the tender, spiced meat. You are an artist, Marc. I’m full from eating a huge Mexican dinner, and I still want to stuff myself with a serious helping of this. Is that bad?

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com/ Jenni

    Fantastic! Love the dry rub/cure (thanks to Stephane for that one). I can just about taste the sweet/oniony glaze and the contrast between the tender, spiced meat. You are an artist, Marc. I’m full from eating a huge Mexican dinner, and I still want to stuff myself with a serious helping of this. Is that bad?

  • http://ouichefcook.blogspot.com/ Mrs. T.

    That looks so amazing, I swear I can smell it from the computer screen! Beautiful flavor combinations. Thank you, I can finally justify buying more kitchen equipment in an already very-full tiny kitchen, I wanna buy a tagine!

  • http://ouichefcook.blogspot.com Mrs. T.

    That looks so amazing, I swear I can smell it from the computer screen! Beautiful flavor combinations. Thank you, I can finally justify buying more kitchen equipment in an already very-full tiny kitchen, I wanna buy a tagine!

  • http://whiteonricecouple.com/blog/ White On Rice Couple

    Excellent spice combination for the lamb. I completely forget about using citrus alongside meat dishes. Lately it’s been cocktail or dessert, but they are fantastic like you’ve done here. Love the multiple day cure a well. Very well thought out. You’ve inspired us to do something savory with our few remaining kumquats or with our calamansis.

  • http://whiteonricecouple.com/blog/ White On Rice Couple

    Excellent spice combination for the lamb. I completely forget about using citrus alongside meat dishes. Lately it’s been cocktail or dessert, but they are fantastic like you’ve done here. Love the multiple day cure a well. Very well thought out. You’ve inspired us to do something savory with our few remaining kumquats or with our calamansis.

  • http://www.whatdoiwant2cooktoday.blogspot.com/ Jan

    Looks really yummy! I love all those spices you’ve added.

  • http://www.whatdoiwant2cooktoday.blogspot.com Jan

    Looks really yummy! I love all those spices you’ve added.

  • http://www.hungryandfrozen.blogspot.com/ Laura @ Hungry and Frozen

    Nifty, nifty…those kumquats are kind of adorable :) Love the sound of that spice rub – coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, fennel – all my favourites right there. Looks absolutely delish.

  • http://www.hungryandfrozen.blogspot.com Laura @ Hungry and Frozen

    Nifty, nifty…those kumquats are kind of adorable :) Love the sound of that spice rub – coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, fennel – all my favourites right there. Looks absolutely delish.

  • http://www.figandcherry.com/ Christie @ Fig & Cherry

    Such a wonderful technique Marc! I saw some kumquats at the grocer the other day and wondered about a savoury dish to make them into – this is perfect! :)

  • http://www.figandcherry.com Christie @ Fig & Cherry

    Such a wonderful technique Marc! I saw some kumquats at the grocer the other day and wondered about a savoury dish to make them into – this is perfect! :)

  • http://www.sophiesfoodiefiles.blogspot.com/ Sophie

    MMMMM…this looks wonderfully yumme 8)!! Great food!

  • http://www.sophiesfoodiefiles.blogspot.com Sophie

    MMMMM…this looks wonderfully yumme 8)!! Great food!

  • http://www.deglazeme.blogspot.com/ Christina@DeglazeMe

    Looks lovely, Marc, as usual. And definitely a big thanks for providing a delicious way of using kumquats — something I’m sure most of us are unsure what to do with!

  • http://www.deglazeme.blogspot.com Christina@DeglazeMe

    Looks lovely, Marc, as usual. And definitely a big thanks for providing a delicious way of using kumquats — something I’m sure most of us are unsure what to do with!

  • http://closetcooking.blogspot.com/ Kevin

    I have been enjoying tagines lately and a kumquat lamb tagine sounds good!

  • http://closetcooking.blogspot.com/ Kevin

    I have been enjoying tagines lately and a kumquat lamb tagine sounds good!

  • http://foodalogue.com/ Joan Nova

    Lots of great flavor layering going on…looks great!

  • http://foodalogue.com Joan Nova

    Lots of great flavor layering going on…looks great!

  • http://www.practicallydone.com/ helen

    Lamb and kumquats must work very well together. Thanks for the tip on lamb breast. I’ve seen them at butcher shops before, and like you said, they’re economical and tasty-looking with all that well-marbled fat.

  • http://www.practicallydone.com helen

    Lamb and kumquats must work very well together. Thanks for the tip on lamb breast. I’ve seen them at butcher shops before, and like you said, they’re economical and tasty-looking with all that well-marbled fat.

  • http://vanillakitchen.blogspot.com/ dawn

    man do I love this flavor-combo!

  • http://vanillakitchen.blogspot.com dawn

    man do I love this flavor-combo!

  • http://www.gourmettraveller88.com/ Janet

    I would love to try Moroccan food, thanks for showcasing this. Will you showcase the Ziplock Ice cream, am curious and love to learn as I am not sure if it’s worth to buy an ice cream maker.

    • marc

      I’d still get an ice cream maker if you plan on making ice cream more than once. The ziploc bag is a neat science experiment, but it doesn’t get the ice cream as firm as an ice cream maker will make it, and it’s pretty labor intensive (you need to shake a bag full of ice for 20 minutes).

      If you want to give it a try, basically you seal some custard (ice cream base) in a ziploc bag and chill the bag in the fridge. When it’s cold, take another ziploc bag and fill it about half way with crushed ice and salt (the salt lowers the freezing temperature of the ice, making it turn into liquid water that’s below freezing). Then put the bag with the custard in the bag with the ice and seal the ice bag. Then you just have to shake it for 20 minutes or until the custard sets up. It will be the texture of halfway melted soft serve, so put it in the freezer to get it a little firmer.

  • http://www.gourmettraveller88.com Janet

    I would love to try Moroccan food, thanks for showcasing this. Will you showcase the Ziplock Ice cream, am curious and love to learn as I am not sure if it’s worth to buy an ice cream maker.

    • marc

      I’d still get an ice cream maker if you plan on making ice cream more than once. The ziploc bag is a neat science experiment, but it doesn’t get the ice cream as firm as an ice cream maker will make it, and it’s pretty labor intensive (you need to shake a bag full of ice for 20 minutes).

      If you want to give it a try, basically you seal some custard (ice cream base) in a ziploc bag and chill the bag in the fridge. When it’s cold, take another ziploc bag and fill it about half way with crushed ice and salt (the salt lowers the freezing temperature of the ice, making it turn into liquid water that’s below freezing). Then put the bag with the custard in the bag with the ice and seal the ice bag. Then you just have to shake it for 20 minutes or until the custard sets up. It will be the texture of halfway melted soft serve, so put it in the freezer to get it a little firmer.

  • http://kitchensidecar.blogspot.com/ katiek from kitchensidecar

    i never thought of how affordable lamb breast is. You mentioned ribs in your recipe. Do they have ribs or am I dense/missing something?

    In any case, this is a great recipe. I think of the kumquats are almost proxies to preserved lemon. That they might be sweeter and impart a fragrant undertone.

    Again, collaborative cooking is the best. In school, I was never one to jump on the group study bandwagon, but group cooking I love.

    • marc

      The funny thing is that although they call them “lamb breasts” they are essentially lamb ribs…. maybe some marketing guy thought calling them breasts would make them sound healthier for women and more appealing for men?

  • http://kitchensidecar.blogspot.com katiek from kitchensidecar

    i never thought of how affordable lamb breast is. You mentioned ribs in your recipe. Do they have ribs or am I dense/missing something?

    In any case, this is a great recipe. I think of the kumquats are almost proxies to preserved lemon. That they might be sweeter and impart a fragrant undertone.

    Again, collaborative cooking is the best. In school, I was never one to jump on the group study bandwagon, but group cooking I love.

    • marc

      The funny thing is that although they call them “lamb breasts” they are essentially lamb ribs…. maybe some marketing guy thought calling them breasts would make them sound healthier for women and more appealing for men?

  • http://www.foodgal.com/ Carolyn Jung

    I just want to dig a fork into that. What a wonderful way to spotlight kumquats, too. Kind of a twist on the traditional use of dried apricots.

  • http://www.foodgal.com Carolyn Jung

    I just want to dig a fork into that. What a wonderful way to spotlight kumquats, too. Kind of a twist on the traditional use of dried apricots.

  • http://colloquialcookin.canalblog.com/ Colloquial Cook

    Kumquats and lamb… It’s lucky you post AFTER you have made and eaten the dish because you would have had me camping at the entrance of your building, héhé.

  • http://colloquialcookin.canalblog.com/ Colloquial Cook

    Kumquats and lamb… It’s lucky you post AFTER you have made and eaten the dish because you would have had me camping at the entrance of your building, héhé.

  • http://pithyandcleaver.com/ maggie (p&c)

    What an awesome combination. Have been meaning to buy lamb breast (it’s cheap on freshdirect) and now am really inspired!

  • http://pithyandcleaver.com maggie (p&c)

    What an awesome combination. Have been meaning to buy lamb breast (it’s cheap on freshdirect) and now am really inspired!

  • http://easydoesitrecipes.blogspot.com/ Christelle

    Oh what a fabulous idea, kumkat and tagine, I could not find kumkat right now, but I’ll reserve the recipe and try in in season :)) Brilliant!

  • http://easydoesitrecipes.blogspot.com/ Christelle

    Oh what a fabulous idea, kumkat and tagine, I could not find kumkat right now, but I’ll reserve the recipe and try in in season :)) Brilliant!

  • http://stumptownsavoury.com/ Stumptown Savoury

    Great idea, curing the meat before braising. I’m going to give this technique a try. Love the combination of lamb and kumquat as well.

  • http://stumptownsavoury.com Stumptown Savoury

    Great idea, curing the meat before braising. I’m going to give this technique a try. Love the combination of lamb and kumquat as well.

  • http://blog.lemonpi.net/ Y

    Oh this sounds really fantastic. I rarely have enough foresight to spice cure meat before cooking it, but I think I should make the exception this time. Love the sound of the whole sweet/sour thing going on.

  • http://blog.lemonpi.net Y

    Oh this sounds really fantastic. I rarely have enough foresight to spice cure meat before cooking it, but I think I should make the exception this time. Love the sound of the whole sweet/sour thing going on.

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com/ Manggy

    Oh man, you guys keep giving me reasons to regret having to go home so early! >:( Ahrrr (salivating)

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com Manggy

    Oh man, you guys keep giving me reasons to regret having to go home so early! >:( Ahrrr (salivating)

  • http://www.cookeatfret.com/ claudia (cook eat FRET)

    if this dish ever met me, it would totally want me to eat it

    wanna bet?

  • http://www.cookeatfret.com claudia (cook eat FRET)

    if this dish ever met me, it would totally want me to eat it

    wanna bet?

  • http://culinarydisaster.com/wordpress Jeff

    Very curious about the ziploc bags to use ice cream. Granted I have an ice cream maker but always cool to learn a new way to do something.

    Spice curing is a great way and I use it a lot when meat curing (drool..bacon). Although very jealous that you only pay 2/lb for lamb breast. It is over 8 here.

    Great flavors and very nicely done.

  • http://culinarydisaster.com/wordpress Jeff

    Very curious about the ziploc bags to use ice cream. Granted I have an ice cream maker but always cool to learn a new way to do something.

    Spice curing is a great way and I use it a lot when meat curing (drool..bacon). Although very jealous that you only pay 2/lb for lamb breast. It is over 8 here.

    Great flavors and very nicely done.

  • http://cyclingcook.blogspot.com/ Sam

    I love the spice curing idea, I’m sure that makes a huge difference to the flavour.

    Lamb tagine is one of my all time favourite dishes, yours looks fantastic. I love the way the kumquats add colour, I’m sure they’re a perfect flavour match too.

  • http://cyclingcook.blogspot.com/ Sam

    I love the spice curing idea, I’m sure that makes a huge difference to the flavour.

    Lamb tagine is one of my all time favourite dishes, yours looks fantastic. I love the way the kumquats add colour, I’m sure they’re a perfect flavour match too.

  • http://www.kilerde.com/ yemek tarifleri

    I love to have recipes like this on hand when my grandsons come to visit. Summer will be here before I know it.

  • http://www.kilerde.com yemek tarifleri

    I love to have recipes like this on hand when my grandsons come to visit. Summer will be here before I know it.

  • http://www.foodsalon.blogspot.com/ Diana

    This Moroccan dish makes me think of preserved lemons. I wonder if I can preserve kumquats the same way, with some coriander seeds and other spices. Can’t wait to try.

  • http://www.foodsalon.blogspot.com Diana

    This Moroccan dish makes me think of preserved lemons. I wonder if I can preserve kumquats the same way, with some coriander seeds and other spices. Can’t wait to try.

  • http://www.guzelyemek.com/ yemek tarifleri

    very very nice thank you..

  • http://www.guzelyemek.com yemek tarifleri

    very very nice thank you..

  • Pingback: In Season: Kumquats, Favas, and Morels – Mission Loc@l -- San Francisco Mission District's News, Food, Art and Events

  • Trebor

    Great!! Could you share with us your couscous recipe?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      It’s nothing special, just plain cous cous prepared according to the directions on the package.

  • Chris

    Wonderful idea to spice cure the lamb, love the rich flavour the kumquats bring.. thank you

Welcome!

I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!

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