Lamb or Beef Tagine with Cardoons is one of the seasonal recipes I most look forward to making. Preserved lemon and olives combine perfectly with Moroccan spices to yield a tangy, lightly spicy sauce that complements the cardoons.
Cleaning the cardoons, which look like giant stalks of celery, will seem like a nuisance if you've never done it before. They fresh stalks have to be pared then quickly rubbed with lemon juice to prevent browning. Once prepped, the cleaned cardoons will keep well for several days in the fridge.
Because the Moroccan preference is that cardoons be very tender, almost buttery-soft, I use a pressure cooker when preparing them with lamb or beef. Even so, there have been times I've had to set the cooked meat aside so that especially stubborn cardoons can continue stewing to my idea of perfection. When making Chicken Tagine with Cardoons, however, I like to use a clay tagine; in this case, precooking the cardoons helps ensure that stalks reach desired tenderness in tandem with the chicken.
Photo © Christine Benlafquih