Thursday, July 26, 2012


It’s hard to say the word “prune” without thinking of wrinkles - and plenty of jokes have been written with reference to the elderly and wrinkled prunes. I guess it got so bad that the humourless prune people decided to take steps. Therefore in the super market nowadays, it’s hard to find prunes because they’ve changed the name to “dried plums”. So now it’s okay for all age groups to eat this sweet, rich- tasting, chewy- textured gem. Forget their vast amount of vitamin K, fibre and other nutrients; prunes are delicious stewed in port wine or maneuvered into main dishes. But don’t forget to go easy as they are quite sweet.

Many people love prunes (I mean dried plums) apart from their dessert realm, like for instance in a Moroccan- seasoned, fabulous, spicy, beef and prunes. If your only use of prunes (I have to get used to dried plums; lets pretend they haven’t changed the name yet) is in stuffing or in your morning oatmeal or in rice pilafs; try this beef with prunes Moroccan style and get ready for a marvelous surprise when you cook with them.

The exhilarating flavours of Moroccan-spiced beef and prunes are cherished in my kitchen. I want to share it with you because even if prunes are not your idea of gastronomic goodness you will love this. The prunes actually cook into the sauce.

I don’t recommend eating prunes right out of the box when you are on the road because you’ll get the steering wheel sugar-sticky, making it uncomfortable to drive. Of course if you live in a large metropolitan area you can invite those squeegee-bearing windshield cleaners to wipe down your steering wheel when stopped for a light, but you may prefer not to get so intimate with them, especially if there is no published rate for this particular service. But I digress. Prunes are a seriously scrumptious companion to beef.

Moroccan food employs a spice blend known as ras el hanout (Rahs el hah noot) which is a blend of many spices. I’ve seen the McCormick brand blend in the market or you can make your own. It is akin to an Indian garam masala in that it is made up of many different spices.

Here is a superb Beef with Prunes, Moroccan style recipe that is not too complicated but quite delicious from  It is a good, loving, home-style dish to warm your innards on a cold night. (Or a hot night if you have central air). The prunes give the dish an unexpected eruption of flavour. By the way, this dish could be made with lamb instead of beef and would be excellent. Lamb is non-existent where I live, so beef it is.

Beef and Prunes              serves 4-6


2 pounds braising steak such as chuck or bottom round, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons ras el hanout, store bought, or recipe follows
Salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 inch piece of ginger root, finely chopped or cut into thin matchsticks
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 pound of chopped tomatoes, from your garden or canned
1 can (14 ounce) chickpeas, drained, or: 1 pound of sliced carrots
1 pint of beef stock
1 cup pitted prunes, cut in half
Small bunch of coriander leaves, chopped
Thinly sliced almonds for topping


  • Put the cubed beef in a large bowl
  • Sprinkle the ras el hanout plus a pinch of black pepper over the meat
  • Mix thoroughly, cover with plastic wrap and put in the icebox
  • Let chill overnight or at least one hour

  • Heat the oil in a dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the meat and cook gently for 2 minutes, to brown the meat but not burn the spices.
  • With a slotted spoon remove the meat and place on a plate.
  • Add the onions and cook gently for 2 minutes
  • Add the ginger and cook for one minute
  • Add the garlic and cook for one minute
  • Put the beef back in the pot and add the tomatoes.
  • Stir well, bring to a boil then simmer, covered, for 90 minutes. If you like, you could now put this in a slow-cooker or put dutch-oven in 350F oven.

  • After the 90 minutes has passed, add the chickpeas and prunes.
  • Simmer for an additional 90 minutes. The prunes will cook down and enrich the sauce.
  • Check that there is sufficient liquid in the cooking vessel, adding water if becoming too dry. It should not be soupy or so dry it might scorch.
  • Taste for salt, adding some if necessary.
  • When the cooking is complete, serve this fragrant beauty over couscous or rice, topping each serving with coriander and almonds. Toasted sesame seed is good too.

Ras el hanout


2 teaspoons ginger
2 teaspoons coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon hot Spanish paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Generous pinch saffron threads
In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the ground spices. Crush the saffron threads between clean, dry fingers, sprinkle over the spice mixture, and whisk again.
Transfer the Ras El Hanout to an airtight container, and store in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months.

BUT WAIT!  If you don’t have all the above spices on your rack, a most basic ras el hanout can be made thusly:

2 teaspoons cumion powder
2 teaspoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
Whisk together to blend.

Beef and prunes is a terrific homey dish. I hope you will prepare this fabulous delight because You and your guests will love it, and you don’t have to ride the Marrakesh express to get it.


Joyce said...

I like prunes. I mean dried plums : ) I have saffron my hubs brought back from India so I might give this a try. Sounds yummy!

Lynn Proctor said...

i love prunes and this sounds like it would be very good and rich tasting--i have never had moroccan food--but i have always thought it looked so good :)

Eat To Live said...

I love prunes, but never thought of putting them with beef. Sounds like I would probably really like this recipe. All the spices you have listed are ones I use for healing... this could be a very healing soup.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I love prunes, but have never cooked with them before. Since you say they kinda dissolve, I may have to give this recipe a try. (My hubby will never have to know about the prunes, right?) Sounds great. I think I'll try it with lamb.

Anonymous said...

I've never cooked with plums, but this sounds great.

LoLy said...

WOW,sound so coooooooooooooooool :D
Wanna have a bite :p

Missed Periods said...

I feel like prunes need a new name or something. They need rebranding. They're good, but the stigma.

Anonymous said...

Whether we call them prunes or dried plums, I like them. Yum!

anthony stemke said...

JOYCE: I wish I could accompany him to India. This Moroccan beef is really spicy-good, like Indian food.

LYNN PROCTOR: If you like prunes you will love this dish.

MY JOURNEY WITH CANDIDA: I think the beef might not be alkaline, but perhaps once in a blue moon you could have some. I use these spices plenty and feel sure they are doing good. I like the taste of the coffee when I sprinkle a little cinnamon on the coffee grounds when brewing.
Best regards, Terry.

SUSAN FLETT SWIDERSKI: Relax dear, there are absolutely no prunes in this, I substituted dried plums cm.
I almost never see lamb around here; last year there were some lamb chops at $17.00 per pound but not many. Beef for this dish was $3.98 per pound.

GENE POOL DIVA: I try to incorporate fruit into meals because other than that I don't eat much fruit. Happy to say this beef and prunes was delish.

LOLY: Don't know if they have Moroccan food in your neck of the woods, you would love this.

MISSED PERIODS: A new name? How about we call them - Dried plums? Just don't eat them in your fabulous van, unless you have windex and paper towels.
Best regards in your grammar battle.

SUSANNE DRAZIC: I totally agree with you. Funny how a name can cause a stigma.

Swathi said...

Adding dry fruit ( plums) with spicy beef looks delicious.

cookingvarieties said...

hi anthony- i was so amazed with the prunes added to beef recipe that i read twice..o yes, thank you, already bookmarked.
have a nice day

SM said...

seems tasty dish

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I LOVE Moroccan spice blends. Yum.
I'm ashamed to say I didn't know prunes were dried plums. I'd never thought about it. lol.

anthony stemke said...

SWATHI IYER: Yes, the prunes really compliment the beef here.

COOKING VARIETIES: I was amazed too the first time I tried this.
Thanks and you have a nice day.

SM: Yes, is.

LYNDA R YOUNG: Please don't be, they only recently changed the name.

Purabi Naha said...

Anthony, I have never tried Moroccan style food and this really looks and sounds full of flavour. Prunes in beef...I have never thought of that, although I have made chicken with raisins. Wonderful post! I think I am going to explore Moroccan food more seriously.

anthony stemke said...

PURABI NAHA: The prunes go very well with the beef (or lamb), they melt into the sauce. The ras el hanout seasoning adds great flavour.
Thanks for calling.

Meg's Delicious Adventures said...

Thanks for your wonderful comments Anthony. That Moroccan beef looks amazing.
By the way, CKP is a community in Maharashtra state in India and they love their meat and fish. Their food is particularly hot and spicy.

- Meg's Delicious Adventures

Whats Cookin Italian Style Cuisine said...

Fabulous flavors... unique for me havent tried before looks great!

Jean Katherine Baldridge said...

Dear Anthony, We lost our youngest son last Monday. I wanted you to know because I consider you a dear friend.
jean xox

Joanne said...

I adore Moroccan flavors! Sounds like a great meal.

anthony stemke said...

JEAN: I sent you an E-mail. I don't have internet access so just read this. I am sorry for your loss Jean.

anthony stemke said...

MEGS DELICIOUS ADVENTURES: I know Maharashtra to be an industrial state as well, thanks for clarifying the CKP.

PEGASUSLEGEND: I loved the uniqueness of this Moroccan dish.
Best regards.

JOANNE: I'm with you, it is a great meal.

Jean Katherine Baldridge said...

Thank you Anthony xoxox! jean

Monet said...

Wow! I wouldn't normally gravitate towards prunes when it came to selecting an evening meal, but this actually sounds like it might change my mind! Thank you for sharing!

anthony stemke said...

MONET: You wouldn't ordinarily thimnk of prunes at dinnertime but they are great.

Duncan D. Horne - the Kuantan blogger said...

Hi Anthony, I would never have imagibed prubes going with beef! How are you doing? Not seen you around for a long time!
Duncan In Kuantan

Duncan D. Horne - the Kuantan blogger said...

Make that *imagined prunes!

anthony stemke said...

DUNCAN D. HORNE: Hello Duncan, happy to hear from you, your April blogs were sensational. I do not have internet access except as very limited so am in limbo of sorts. Take care and best regards to you and the girls.

Dawn@Lighten Up! said...

You know, I don't know if I'd ever try beef and prunes, but I really like how you take ingredients that some may find dubious and still manage to whip up awesome recipes. :)

Al Penwasser said...

I'd like to try this.
Although "wrinkles" aren't the first things I think of when I think of prunes.

Theresa Milstein said...

This sounds delicious. I'm going to make it soon.

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

This sounds fantastic! I would have to fudge and not tell my hubby there were prunes in it...I think he might like it :)

Duncan D. Horne - the Kuantan blogger said...

Anthony it's good to hear from you. Hope you will get connected again soon. My family are doing well my friend. Thanks for your kind words about my April A-Z!

Misha Gerrick said...

I adore "dried plums" aka prunes. The idea of mixing them with beef sounds incredibly tasty.

How have you been?

anthony stemke said...

DAWN @ LIGHTEN UP: Thanks Dawn, I appreciate your kind words. If you like spicy beef dishes you will like this,

AL PENWASSER: Not the first thing you think of? Oh, you must mean you immediately think of dried plums. cm

anthony stemke said...

THERESA MILSTEIN: It is delicious,let me know how you liked it.

SKINNY CHICK: He probably won't be able to identify the prunes, they melt into the spicy sauce, but if he inquires you can say they are dried plums to counteract the ras el hanout. That should quiet him Liz.

MISHA GERICKE: You are obviously a lady of fine taste; yes, dried plums/prunes are a wonderful food.
I am well thank you; hope you lose the flu pronto.

anthony stemke said...

THERESA MILSTEIN: It is delicious,let me know how you liked it.

SKINNY CHICK: He probably won't be able to identify the prunes, they melt into the spicy sauce, but if he inquires you can say they are dried plums to counteract the ras el hanout. That should quiet him Liz.

MISHA GERICKE: You are obviously a lady of fine taste; yes, dried plums/prunes are a wonderful food.
I am well thank you; hope you lose the flu pronto.

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

What a marvelous, flavorful stew. I'd have to sneak the prunes past the ol' hubby, but what he doesn't know won't hurt him ;)

anthony stemke said...

LIZZY DO: It will be easy to sneak in the prunes and the taste of the meat will excite him (his tastebuds I mean). He will thank you for preparing this lovely dish. And I thank you for calling.

nutschell said...

Oh my haven't been around in awhile. Sorry! Oh i missed a lot of good food. I'm definitely trying this recipe soon :)

Happy Friday!


anthony stemke said...

Hi nutschell, what a wonderful surprise to hear from you. Hope you are having a wonderful weekend.

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Unknown said...

The Prune idea sounds wonderful... I love prunes. dried plums or whatever they are now called. Your Moroccan beef looks delicious!!

anthony stemke said...

MALLI: You will love this dish as much as I do, it is that good. Thank You for calling.

Carol Pereira said...

Hi Anthony.....

Beef Curry with thats a first for me, and youve made it look so delicious ...bookmarked straightaway to try. Thankou for sharing this lovely recipe.

I hope you and family are well.

anthony stemke said...

CAY SERA: This is a delicious dish, I hope you will try it.
Best wishes to you Carol.

Jehanne said...

I bet this is delicious. Gorgeous stew to try,bookmarked!

Torviewtoronto said...

i like this combination and flavours looks wonderful

anthony stemke said...

JEHANNE: Thanks, you will love it.

TORVIEWTORONTO: I agree, is a great combo.Thanks.

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