Instant Pot Goat (or Lamb) Tagine

Another quick and tasty pressure cooker meal.

Last spring, I bought a half a lamb and a half a goat from a local organic rancher. The meat came butchered (of course), packaged into a variety of cuts, and frozen solid. Each package of meat was tightly wrapped with plastic and then covered with white butcher paper. Some of it spent a little more than a year in my freezer with no ill effects.

Goat Tagine
Goat tagine, prepared in an Instant Pot.

As I’m working on clearing all the meat out of my big garage freezer for a new batch of meat next spring, I’m searching for recipes that are easy, tasty, and, if possible, Whole30 compliant. I found one called Goat Tagine with almonds and apricots on The Guardian website. I fiddled around with it a bit to Americanize the ingredient list and turn it into a recipe for my Instant Pot pressure cooker. Here’s my version.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds. Not easy to find; ground cumin, which I use a lot, is widely available.
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds. I could not find these locally; all I could find was ground coriander. So I used slightly less than 1 tsp of that.
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 12 black peppercorns. I don’t see why they can’t be rainbow peppercorns if that’s all you have.
  • 2 tbsp olive, rapeseed, or sunflower oil. I used olive oil.
  • 2-1/2 pounds goat or lamb, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces. The original recipe specifies shoulder of kid or goat, but I went into my freezer and pulled all all the remaining goat packages I had: steaks, chops, shanks. Goats are small animals so although that might sound like a lot of meat, I think I came up short on the total amount of meat after I’d cut out the bones and trimmed away what little fat there was. My main goal, however, was to finish up all the goat left in the freezer and I succeeded.
  • 2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped. I used yellow onions.
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick.
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced. I suppose you can use the kind in a jar.
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated.
  • 1 tsp hot, smoked paprika. I didn’t have this so I used 1 tsp of regular (sweet) paprika and about 1/8 tsp chili powder. I also added a drop of liquid smoke, but I think I could have used 2 or more drops because I didn’t taste any smokiness at all.
  • 1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes. I used a pint-sized jar of chopped tomatoes in their natural juice. I’d canned them earlier this year. I really love being able to use my own garden vegetables in recipes year-round.
  • 1 cup dried apricots, cut in half. I got Turkish apricots in the natural foods section of my supermarket. They’re available in bulk. They’re not the pretty orange ones that come prepackaged and are available elsewhere in the store. Instead, they were dark colored and didn’t look very appetizing. They tasted great and weren’t nearly as sweet as the orange ones. (That’s all I’m buying from now on.)
  • 1/2 cup whole blanched almonds. I used slivered almonds because I prefer smaller pieces in my food.
  • 1 small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped.

Instructions:

  1. Set up the Instant Pot and make sure the pot is clean and dry. Press Sauté and allow the pot to heat. Then add the cumin, coriander, cloves, and peppercorns. Toast lightly for a few minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.
  2. Transfer spices to a mortar and pestle (or spice grinder). Pound or grind into a powder and set aside.
  3. Add 1 tbsp oil to the Instant Pot and allow it to heat. Then add the meat and brown it. You might have to do it in two batches with some additional oil; I didn’t. Transfer the meat into a bowl and set aside.
  4. Add 1 tbsp oil to the instant pot. Then stir in the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender; about 5-10 minutes.
  5. Stir in the ground spices, cinnamon stick, garlic, ginger, paprika, and salt and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  6. Stir in the tomatoes and their juices. While cooking, use a heat-resistant rubber spoon or wooden spoon to scrape away at any dark bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. The liquid in the tomatoes should make this easy.
  7. When the mixture has come to a boil, stir in the meat and any of its released juices.
  8. If necessary, add hot water to bring the level of liquid up to nearly cover the meat.
  9. Add the apricots and almonds and stir well.
  10. Cover the pot and lock the lid. Turn the steam vent so it’s closed.
  11. On the Instant Pot, press Off, and then Manual. Set the time to 30 minutes.
  12. Allow the stream to release naturally for about 10-15 minutes, then carefully open the pot.
  13. Stir in the chopped cilantro and serve.

A few notes about this recipe:

  • You might need to add more salt. The original recipe was vague on what was needed so I made it without salt. It definitely needed salt so I added about a half teaspoon before locking down the lid. I try to minimize my salt intake for health reasons so you might want more.
  • The original recipe, which was written for the stovetop, instructs you to cook kid for 45 minutes or goat for 60-75 minutes before adding the apricots and almonds and then cook for another 45 minutes. This would obviously cook the apricots less. You could simulate this in the Instant Pot by pressure cooking without the apricots and almonds for 20 minutes, adding them, and then pressure cooking for another 10 minutes. Then you’d have to deal with pressure release to open the pot to add the apricots and almonds. I’m lazy so I didn’t bother. It’s up to you. I don’t think the flavor will change.
  • Reduce the pressure cooking time by 5 minutes if you’re using kid instead of goat.
  • The recipe suggested serving with couscous, rice, or flatbread. But since I’m trying to avoid grains and gluten — yes, I’m still on that Whole30 thing and I’m actually liking it — I cooked up some finely chopped cauliflower and pretended it was rice. I poured some tagine right over that. Excellent.

Lamb, Eggplant, and Tomatoes Ras el Hanout

A made up recipe that came out better than I expected.

Another evening, another dinner guest. This time of year, I have to invite people I can send home with zucchini.

Of course, I’m also growing eggplant, which I really like, and have a bunch of that to eat. After browsing Whole30 recipes for eggplant, I decided to try something completely different, something that used up garden vegetables and some of the ground lamb I had in my freezer from the half lamb I bought last year.

I also had a seasoning I’d whipped up for goat (which I also have in my freezer) that I knew would be great with the lamb. Called ras el hanout, I found the recipe on the Amazing Ribs website when I was looking for something interesting to season goat ribs. I made it exactly as written, including the culeb berries, which I tracked down online at Spice Jungle. The result is mind-bogglingly aromatic, reminding me of the middle eastern food I used to eat at my wasband’s Aunt Rose’s house or the Persian Room in Scottsdale.

So I made up this recipe. It’s Whole30 compliant, but what’s more important is that it’s delicious. And that’s what really matters, right?

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium to large eggplants or 4 medium Japanese eggplants.
  • olive oil
  • 1 pound ground lamb or goat. (I used lamb.)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons ras el hanout
  • 1 medium onion, chopped.
  • 1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 can tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Since this recipe is made up, the measurements aren’t precise and don’t need to be. Use more or less of any ingredient to suit your taste. I think it’s the combination of ingredients that make it good.

Instructions:

  1. Prep the eggplant:
    • Cut half the eggplants lengthwise and, using a paring knife, carve away about half the flesh, leaving the skin and a layer of flesh. Brush the flesh with olive oil, place on a baking sheet, and bake in a 350°F oven until flesh is cooked. Remove and set aside.
    • For the other half of the eggplants, pare away the skin and chop the flesh, as well as the flesh carved out of the other eggplant, into small pieces.
  2. Cook the lamb (or goat), onions, garlic, and ras el hanout together in a large skillet. You shouldn’t need to add any oil; the meat will be fatty enough. In fact, you can probably drain away some of the fat once the lamb is brown and the onions are just starting to get translucent.
  3. Add the chopped eggplant and tomatoes.
  4. Simmer until the eggplant is cooked.
  5. Stir in the tomato paste.
  6. Simmer another 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
  7. Spoon the lamb, eggplant, and tomato mixture into the prepared eggplant skins. (You may have some leftover.)
  8. Return the stuffed eggplant skins to the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until well heated.
  9. Remove from oven, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

I don’t have a picture. I’ll take one the next time I make this, which actually might be soon. I was thinking of trying it again with goat meat. I sure have enough eggplant and tomatoes in my garden.

You can skip the stuffed eggplant part — in other words, serve the dish on its own, with a salad, or with rice. The other day, I made scrambled eggs and topped them with reheated leftovers. Delicious!

If you make this, please come back and let me know how you liked it.

One-Pan Pork Tenderloin with Tequila

An easy recipe with Whole30 in mind.

With the summer dragging on and lots of work to do around my house and property in preparation for my first glamping guests, I’m still making time to entertain, inviting friends up for dinner a few times a week. But rather than chain myself to the kitchen for hours preparing a complex meal, I’m keeping it simple. Yesterday, I looked up one of my favorite recipes, a one-pan dinner combining meat and vegetables that can be prepared and cooked in less than an hour: pork tenderloin with tequila.

Jose CuervoNow I know what you’re saying. Tequila is alcohol and alcohol is verboten in Whole30, which I started last week. And you’re right. But I can make a two-part argument for why I could include it in this recipe:

Still, if you feel strongly that alcohol should not be included in any Whole30 recipe despite these two points, just exclude it when you prepare this. Then let us know how it came out. I bet it’s still good.

Now here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup mustard. If you’re going Whole30 on this, check the label and make sure it doesn’t include sugar. Many do. I recommend Guldens, which does not.
  • 2 pounds pork tenderloin. Don’t get hung up on weight. Just buy a package of pork tenderloin. There are usually two in a pack. Use both of them.
  • 1/4 cup oil. The original recipe called for vegetable oil. I used light olive oil.
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved.

  • 1/4 cup chopped carrot. I’m not big on measuring so I just peeled and cut one carrot. Done.
  • 1/4 cup celery. Read what I said about the carrot above. One stalk.
  • 1/4 cup lime juice. Again, I’m not interested in measuring or putting away half a lime. I used the juice of one lime.
  • 1/4 cup tequila. I used Jose Cuervo. I still have a ton of it from Arizona. (People here don’t drink tequila like they do in Arizona.)
  • 1 tablespoon ground red chiles. I used chile powder and because I don’t like very spicy food, I used less than a full tablespoon.
  • 1 teaspoon salt.
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves.
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves.
  • 4 medium tomatoes, chopped. This should equal about four cups. In the past, I’ve made this with canned chopped tomatoes. If you decide to go this route, drain off some of that tomato juice. Otherwise, this will wind up as a soupy (although still tasty) mess.
  • 1 small onion, chopped. I used a medium one. I like onions.
  • 1 bay leaf. I just realized that I forgot this yesterday. Oops.
  • 1/4 cup snipped parsley. I didn’t have any so I didn’t use any.

Yesterday, I also added some chopped up banana peppers from my garden, mostly because I’m trying very hard to use them up. I would have added some chopped zucchini, too, if I’d remembered to.

Instructions:

It can’t get any easier than this:

  1. Spread the mustard over the pork tenderloin.
  2. Heat oil and garlic in a large skillet until hot.
  3. Cook the tenderloin over medium heat in the oil until browned.
  4. Stir in the remaining ingredients except the parsley. (I mixed them all together in a bowl in advance and just poured them in.)
  5. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat to simmer and cover.
  6. Cook until pork is done, about 30 minutes.
  7. Remove bay leaf.
  8. Cut meat into 1-inch slices against the grain and arrange with vegetables on a serving plate with a generous lip. (I used a glass pie plate.)
  9. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

Tequila Pork
Of course, I forgot to take a photo before dinner yesterday. But don’t the leftovers look pretty good?

I prepared all this right in front of my dinner guest. We’d been working on one of my garage projects and came upstairs when we were done. My stove sits on a kitchen island with food prep counter space, a breakfast bar, and seating. While my guest chatted with me, I cooked. It was all very easy and social. (I should mention that I planned my kitchen with the stove in the island instead of the sink just so I could stay social while preparing food. There’s nothing ruder than turning your back on a guest for extended periods of time.)

The result was delicious.

I had a bunch left over and will likely have it for dinner tonight. But I’m also going to heat up some of those vegetables and enjoy them with my scrambled eggs this morning. Yum.