Saturday, October 13, 2018

Coffee-Rubbed Lamb Tagine with Seven Hills Merlot #MerlotMe #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf Seven Hills Winery, one of the #MerlotMe event sponsors.
Complimentary wine was provided for this post and this page may contain affiliate links.
However, all opinions expressed here are my own.

As I started researching for this post, I realized that this is the first non-California Merlot that I am sharing for this year's #MerlotMe. You can see several of my other pairings rounded-up in my post: So Many Merlots, So Many Pairings. When the wines starting rolling in from the event sponsors*, I posted the photo below and a friend, who was familiar with the winery, immediately chimed in with a flavor profile that had my mouth watering: lamb, coffee, and vanilla. That was it. No link to a recipe. Nothing. Just the suggestion. I ran with it!

Seven Hills Merlot

Seven Hills Winery was a new one to me. So, I did some reading. Located in the heart of Walla Walla, Washington, it's one of the area’s oldest wineries. And, as a fourth-generation farmer who worked alongside his father to plant the founding estate blocks, founder and winemaker Casey McClellan has played an important role in the viticultural history of the Walla Walla Valley appellation (AVA). 

From McClellan: "This wine is drawn from the original Merlot blocks at Seven Hills Vineyard that I planted with my father in the summer of 1982. 2015 marks the 28th vintage I have made Merlot from these same vines. This vintage exhibits a beautiful, dark ruby color and enticing aromas of red cherry, raspberry, mocha, and rose petals. The palate is supple and generous with loads of red fruits accentuated with vanilla and spice and finishing with both supple fruit and firm, spicy tannins. While drinking well at release, it will improve considerably with a few years of bottle age and should cellar well for up to ten years from vintage."

I could definitely see the pairing of the lamb, coffee, and vanilla being spot-on. I considered roasting a coffee-rubbed leg of lamb, but I still had some boneless roasts in my freezer from the micro-share of lamb we bought. So, I opted to rub the lamb and cook it in my tagine.


A tajine or tagine is a Maghrebi dish named after the earthenware pot in which it is cooked. So, it refers to both the cooking vessel and the resulting food; it is also called a maraq/marqa in North Africa and the Middle East.

Mentions of the tagine date back to Harun al-Rashid who was a ruler of the Early Muslim conquests and it appears in the 9th century collection of stories One Thousand and One Nights. At the same time, it was noted during the Islamic reign of the Abbasid Empire that stretched from the Middle East/Asia to North Africa and Andalusia. 

The dish was used by nomadic Bedouin people of the Arabian Peninsula, who added dried fruits such as dates, apricots and plums to it. Tagine is traditionally cooked over hot charcoal with the shape of the lid acting as a self-basting tool. The circular base is flat with low sides and the cover is a large cone-shape that sits on the base during cooking. The cover is designed to collect all condensation and re-direct to back to the bottom.

It's a pretty amazing pot. I love that I put the lamb in the tagine, ran back to work for the afternoon, did a ton of errands with my older son, and when we came home, the lamb was so tender I could cut it with a spoon.

Coffee-Rubbed Lamb Tagine

  • 2 pounds boneless lamb (I had two roasts, butterflied)
  • 4 to 5 T finely ground coffee (I used a decaf, light roast bean)
  • 1 T sumac
  • 1 T smoked paprika
  • 1 T ground turmeric
  • 1 t + 1 T ground cinnamon
  • 1 t + 1 T ground coriander
  • 2 t ground vanilla bean powder
  • 1 t crushed Aleppo pepper
  • olive oil as needed
  • 2 onions, peeled and quartered
  • 1-1/2 C beef stock
  • 1-1/2 C red wine
  • 1 C brewed coffee (I used decaf)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • freshly ground salt, as needed
  • freshly ground pepper, as needed
  • mashed potatoes for serving

Sprinkle lamb with 1 t ground cinnamon and 1 t ground coriander and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight. In a small mixing bowl blend all of your spices - ground coffee, sumac, smoked paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, coriander, vanilla bean powder, and crushed Aleppo pepper. Add in enough olive oil to create a thick paste. Massage the paste over the entire surface of the lamb, reserving 1 T of the paste.

Add a splash of olive oil to the bottom of the tagine. Brown the lamb on all sides over medium-high heat. Stir in the remaining spice paste and pour in the stock, wine, and coffee. Nestle the quartered onions, cinnamon sticks, and vanilla bean around the meat.

Bring to a boil, place the cover on the tagine, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 to 6 hours. The meat should be tender and cooked through. Every hour or so, you might want to ensure there is still enough liquid in the pan. If needed, add more stock or wine. Check occasionally to make sure the bottom doesn't burn. Stir, as needed. 

Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, spoon mashed potatoes on to individual serving plates. Top with lamb and the onions. serve immediately.

Find Seven Hills Winery
on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram
*Disclosure: I received compensation in the form of wine samples for recipe development and generating social media traction. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the organizer and sponsors of this event.


  1. I love my Tagine and am always looking for new recipes to use it. I am so keeping this and making it. Can't wait to share it with you. Great pairing!

  2. I love my Tagine and am always looking for new recipes to use it. I am so keeping this and making it. Can't wait to share it with you. Great pairing!

  3. I have come close to buying a tagine so many times....I think the time has come! Your pairing sound amazing.

  4. Wow-that Lamb Tagine looks amazing!! I need to get one of those. Thank you for sharing! Delicious pairing.

  5. I'm gonna have to go out and get a Tagine.....


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