Pumpkin & Venison Tagine Recipe
3 tbsp rapeseed or sunflower oil
600g squash or pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed and cut into large pieces
250g shallots , halved
450g stewing venison (shoulder or shin is best or you can use beef instead), cut into large pieces
1 tbsp cumin, 1 tbsp coriander seeds, 1 tsp black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick, 2 cloves, 3 garlic cloves , crushed
bunch coriander , stalks roughly chopped, leaves picked
thumb-sized piece ginger , peeled and roughly chopped
1 fat red chilli , deseeded and roughly chopped
good pinch of saffron, 500ml chicken stock
8 pitted prunes , halved, 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
bulgar wheat or brown rice and natural yogurt , to serve
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pan and heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Toss the pumpkin pieces in another 1 tbsp oil and some seasoning, and put on a large baking tray lined with baking parchment. Roast the pumpkin for 30 mins until almost tender but not too soft. Meanwhile add the shallots to the pan, rolling around now and then, until golden. Scoop the shallots out and set aside.
Add the remaining oil to the pan and brown the venison – you’ll need to do this in batches so that you don’t overcrowd the pan. Take your time, ensuring the meat has a nice dark-brown crust before you remove it from the pan – this will give the tagine a good rich flavour.
While the meat browns, heat a frying pan and tip in the cumin, coriander seeds, peppercorns, cinnamon stick and cloves.
Warm the spices through, stirring them around from time to time, until they turn a shade darker and smell aromatic.
Put the cinnamon stick to one side with the venison, and tip the remaining spices into the small bowl of a food processor or a mortar. Whizz or pound with a pestle to a powder.
Add the coriander stalks, ginger, garlic, chilli and 1 tsp salt, and blend to a paste (you may have to add a little water if using a food processor).
When all the venison pieces have been browned, return the meat to the pan with the cinnamon stick. Stir in the spice paste and sizzle for 1-2 mins, splashing in a little water if the paste starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the saffron and pour in the stock. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and leave to bubble over a gentle heat for 1 hr 30 mins, stirring occasionally.
Add the browned shallots, prunes and pomegranate molasses to the tagine, increase the heat a little and bubble without a lid for 30 mins more, until the liquid has reduced and the tagine is rich and tasty. Season and stir in the pumpkin 10 mins before the tagine is finished cooking.
Stir through the coriander leaves and serve with your favourite grain – bulgur wheat, quinoa or brown rice goes well – and a dollop of yogurt. Even better if cooled and served the next day. This tagine will last for up to 3 days in the fridge or can be frozen for 2 months.