Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Merguez Madness Volume 1

On my recent trip to San Diego I was able to source some merguez sausage from my (new) good friend Hanni at the Mid-East Market.

For those not familiar, merguez sausage is a fresh sausage made with lamb, beef, or... a mixture stuffed into a lamb-intestine casing popular in North African cuisine. It is also popular in the Middle East, and Europe, having become particularly popular in France by the closing decades of the twentieth century.

It is heavily spiced with cumin and chili pepper or Harissa, which gives it its characteristic piquancy and red color, as well as other spices such as sumac, fennel, and garlic. (SOURCE: Wiki)

Over the coming weeks I'll be experimenting with various methods of preparing and enjoying this fine delicacy. Up first, a (severe) adaption from the following recipe in the NYT:


1/2 pound merguez sausage
1 pound prepared spaghetti squash
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped carrot
2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2-1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4-1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
1/2-1 teaspoon parsley
4-5 sun-dried tomatoes, slivered
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup white wine
1 Pinch Harissa for serving, optional.


Heat cast-iron pan on medium heat, add merguez and sauté over medium heat until lightly browned. Remove merguez and leave fat in the pan. Add onion, carrot and garlic to pan and sauté until soft. Stir in cumin and 1/4 teaspoon paprika. Add merguez and spaghetti squash. Add remaining paprika, parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Add wine to deglaze pan and scape up any browned bits. Add and fold in slivered sun-dried tomatoes and simmer until sausage is cooked through. Add harissa (optional) and serve with your choice of red wine .

NOTE: I totally blanked and forgot the sun-dried tomatoes. While the dish was still very enjoyable, I'm positive the sweetness from the tomatoes would have provided a nice contrast to the heat from the spices and sausage and took the dish to another level. I guess that just means I'll have to make it again! Though it may be a while as I have a handful of other recipes I want to get through first, and I only have 3 pounds of merguez left with no known place to source it here in Pittsburgh (AGAIN).

VARIATIONS: Red onion in place of yellow/white. Deglaze with red wine instead of white. Chorizo for merguez. Go crazy.

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