Our spice mix can be made ahead and refrigerated up to a week or frozen up to a month. Even easier: Use Williams-Sonoma's Traditional Tagine Spices ($7; 800-541-2233 or www.williams-sonoma.com). Prep: 15 minutes; Cook: 30 minutes.
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 large yellow or Spanish onions (about 1 1/2 pounds), thinly sliced
1/4 cup raisins, soaked in warm water 10 minutes and drained
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
8 (1- to 1 1/4-inch-thick) lamb loin chops
2 teaspoons spice mix (see above)
3/4 cup beef broth
3 tablespoons honey
4 1/2 cups cooked couscous
1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) slivered blanched almonds, toasted (optional)
How to Make It
Combine the spice-mix ingredients, then set them aside in a tightly sealed container.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, 20-25 minutes or until golden. Add raisins, cinnamon, salt, and pepper; continue cooking 5 minutes or until onions are caramelized. Set onion mixture aside. (This can be prepared a day or two ahead and refrigerated.)
While onion mixture cooks, pat lamb dry. Sprinkle spice mix in shallow dish. Coat lamb on both sides; set aside. (Lamb can be prepped up to 8 hours ahead and refrigerated.)
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in skillet on medium-high heat. Sear lamb on both sides so spices adhere to it. Reduce heat to medium.
For medium-rare meat, cook lamb 5-6 minutes on each side or until thermometer registers 145°; for medium, cook 8-10 minutes on each side or until thermometer registers 160°. Transfer to a serving platter or tagine dish; keep warm.
Add broth to the pan, scraping to loosen browned bits. Add the honey, reduce sauce to 1/2 cup (about 4 minutes), and pour over lamb. Spoon lamb mixture over couscous; top with onions (reheat if necessary) and sprinkle with toasted almonds, if desired.
Our recipes call for a skillet, but you can also cook using a tagine dish. If you use a heavy cast-iron enamel tagine such as All-Clad's or Le Creuset's, cut the liquid in the recipe by half; the dish's tight seal doesn't allow as much evaporation as a regular pan's.
A tagine dish holds a limited amount of food, so use a small Dutch oven to make big amounts.
For a dramatic table presentation in keeping with Moroccan custom, set the dish in the center of the table, slowly lifting the lid to release the heady aromas and show off the colorful meal inside.