Date night. 1 TBS+ of the Moroccan preserved lemon paste has 3 jobs: as the rub before browning the beef, last ingredient before the braise, and a finish when adding the spinach and dates. It's a beautiful mix of flavors and aromas, especially if you braise one day and serve the next.
2 - 2.5 lbs beef cheeks
1 TBS olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 TBS Moroccan Preserved Meyer Lemon Paste, divided + more to taste
1 cup beef stock (vegetable is okay)
1 can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup seeded dried dates
1 1/2 cups spinach, shredded coarsely
1/3 cup coarsely chopped roasted pistachios
Rub 1/2 TBS If & When on the beef. Let sit while you prep the other ingredients.
Preheat oven to 200F.
In a Dutch oven (or covered casserole dish), heat half the oil; cook beef until browned. We like a high heat here. Transfer to a plate.
Deglaze pan if needed. Heat remaining oil in same pan; cook onion and garlic, stirring, until onion softens. Add spices; cook, stirring, until fragrant. Add 1/2 cup of the stock; cook, stirring, until mixture boils.
Add remaining stock, tomatoes; 1/2 TBS Moroccan paste, stir to combine. Return beef to pot and cover. Place pot in oven.
After 2 hours, turn over beef and increase temperature to 250F. Cook for 2 hours, covered.
Meat should be fork tender. Cook for another 30 minutes if necessary.
When ready to serve: add dates, spinach and more preserved lemon paste to taste; cook, covered, on high, 5-10 minutes or until spinach wilts. Season to taste.
Sprinkle with pistachios to serve.
Variation: The beef cheeks may be cooked in a pressure cooker (about 8 hours).