Lamb Tagine with Olives, Propre

This time of year we vacillate between the grill and the kitchen; barbecued chicken and stews.

Mon mari is reluctant to give up the barbecue and I’m anxious to start the stir-fries and tagines.

Ironically, in the spring it’s the opposite: Mon mari is reluctant to take over with the outdoor cooking duties and I’m tired of braises and roasts.

I like to think it’s because I enjoy change, not that I like to rush the seasons..

Lamb Tagine with Olives

Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 12oz (360gr) boneless lamb shoulder or leg, cut into pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 cup green olives, cut in half
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 3 tbs parsley, chopped
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/3 (3oz, 90ml) cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup (3oz, 90ml) beef broth
  • 1 tbs cornstarch (maizena)
  • 2 tbs water
  • 1/2 cup (3oz,90gr) medium couscous
  • 3/4 cup (6oz, 180ml) chicken stock

Lamb Tagine with Olives


  • Heat oil in a tagine or heavy pot with tight-fitting lid.
  • Add lamb and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside.
  • Add the onions, garlic, ginger and sauté until tender and starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
  • Add paprika, cumin and stir-fry briefly.
  • Return the lamb to the pot, add wine and beef stock, cover, turn heat to low and braise for 45 minutes.
  • Add olives, parsley and cook 10 minutes longer.
  • Heat chicken stock to boiling.
  • Put couscous into a bowl, pour chicken stock over, cover and let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Dissolve cornstarch in water; add to lamb, stirring until thickened. You may not need all of it.
  • When done, spoon meat and olives onto couscous and serve.

Print Recipe


It’s a very useful French word.

If a house is clean and tidy with everything in its proper place it’s ‘propre’.

If a garden is planted in neat rows, free of weeds, and with healthy plants it’s ‘propre’.

If your pet is house-trained he / she is ‘propre’.

If all of your documents are in order your file is ‘propre’.

Even French strikes can be ‘propre’.

Unlike in the US, where a work-strike can last for weeks or months or years until one or the other side (or both) have lost so much they have to reach an agreement French strikes are relatively painless. They are usually announced days or weeks in advance so everyone can prepare and / or participate and normally they last one day, maybe two.

Sometimes only hours.

Agricultural strikes tend to be a little more creative than, say, postal strikes.

The farmers will often drive their farm tractors and trailers into town and fill the roundabouts with hay or some such thing. Or maybe they just block all the traffic going in and out of town.

That happened last week in a neighboring town.

I didn’t know about it but our substitute teacher was telling us about it in class today.

In the line of traffic that had been brought to a standstill on the road going into her town was a circus.

There are a lot of circuses in France….

I don’t actually know the reason, nor did our teacher, but the circus decided to let the elephants out of their cages. Maybe they were bored or hungry or thirsty….

She had pictures on her phone of the elephants wandering between the cars and having a wee snack on the trees on the side of the road.

I don’t think that would qualify as ‘propre’.

And for all of you fellow language lovers, here are my pet language irritants for the day…. Also not ‘propre’.

A butternut is a nut, aka a white walnut. I used to gather them in the woods as a child along with hickory nuts. Butternuts were also used to make a lovely reddish-brown dye.

The vegetable everyone loves in the fall is a butternut squash.

A kiwi is a flightless bird native to New Zealand.

Kiwi is also used as a nickname for people from New Zealand.

Kiwifruit is the egg-shaped green fruit that has small black seeds and tastes somewhat like a strawberry (also with small seeds).

I find it interesting that so many people add words that aren’t needed and truncate the ones that are.

2 thoughts on “Lamb Tagine with Olives, Propre”

  1. Talking of not “propre” – I read your sentence as “the elephants wandering between the cars and having a wee ” and I was astounded then saw they were having a wee snack when I read further on !!!

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