Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Merguez with Spinach and Golden Raisins on Couscous

Growing up,if someone said we were having sausage, I knew exactly what I would be eating. It would be made of pork, full of flavor and have a lot of salt and sage seasonings. Loved it. Later on I found out that tasty link sausage I loved had hog casings holding in the meat. Hog casings? I put that thought out of my head, or maybe to the side in my head and have enjoyed sausage for years.

I have read about making sausage, and have been intrigued by it, but I’ve got to tell you I am not into hog casings. Can’t help it. It isn’t in me. I like the idea of making your own sausages fresh and grilling them. No preservatives or additives and no hog casings. You can make small amounts and freeze them for quick additions to pasta or stews.

Merguez is the name of a Moroccan lamb sausage. Honestly, I’ve never had the real thing, only these. And we’re crazy about them! Talk about spice! The sensation of hot smoked Spanish pimenton, cumin, coriander and cinnamon combines well with garlic and cayenne pepper. I love the Italian parsley and cilantro in this as well. It’s fresh and bright and is complimented by the couscous and the sweet spinach with golden raisins. Be sure to make the yogurt sauce to go with this. It finishes the flavors beautifully.

A Moroccan Lamb Sausage
adapted from
The Mediterranean Kitchen

1 pound ground lamb
3 fat cloves garlic, minced
About a ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
About a ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tbsp hot smoked Spanish pimenton
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
A good pinch of coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Take out a little bit and fry it until done so you can taste the seasoning and adjust.

You can grill this outside if you want or cook on top of the stove in cast iron skillet.

Pat the mixture into small 3 inch patties. Put on plate and keep cold in refrigerator until ready to cook.

Grill 3-5 minutes per side until cooked through. These freeze wonderfully. Put patty on waxed paper and top with another piece of waxed paper. Keep the paper in between the patties and put in Ziploc baggy to freeze. I freeze six and use six for two people.

Makes 12 small patties.

Yogurt Sauce

½ cup Greek yogurt
½ Meyer lemon, juiced
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
About ¼ cup chopped fresh mint

Combine and let sit while you cook the sausages to allow the flavors to blend.
Makes ½ cup.

Spinach with Onions and Golden Raisins

1 pound fresh spinach, washed
1 good swirl extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped sweet yellow onion, chopped onion
good pinch dried crushed red pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
good pinch ground cinnamon
1 grating fresh nutmeg
1/2 cup dried golden raisins

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
10 ounces plain couscous, cooked according to package directions

Heat a good swirl of extra virgin olive oil heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add dried crushed red pepper and garlic, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add spinach and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in golden raisins. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Stir butter into couscous and season with salt and pepper.
Plate couscous, spinach and sausages. Top with yogurt sauce. Sprinkle with a bit of lemon peel. If you have them on hand, slivers of sweet preserved lemons take this over the top.



Anonymous said...


That sounds like a winner. Have you ever had the version of lokanico(sp?)--a Greek sausage--that has orange peel in it?


Mary Coleman said...

Hey democommie,
I have not heard of that but I did find a recipe for Lucanica that is a pork and lamb sausage from Italy that has ginger and fennel in it. Orange peel would work in that,don't you think?
I'm way off into the "sausage" thing this week!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Mary:

Yes, I'm a guy who says there is no such thing as bad sausage, only bad sausage makers! Seriously, the website I went to a little while ago said that "Loukaniko" means "sausage" to most Greeks so the orange peel thing is just one of many variations on a theme. I like good linquica, chorizo (they always pronounced it "Chadeese" when I lived in New Bedford, MA) and most other types. The casings thing doesn't bother me so much, but I know what you mean. What does bother me is the proliferation of sausage that has as much character as a Bar-S hot dog. I've eaten way too many "Italian" sausages that are sans pork and chicken or turkey Andouille is, in my experience, just plain crap. I'm sure that it's not so much the meat as the way it's ground and the spicing. It seems to me that chicken and turkey do not have the same sort of texture as ground pork or beef (they're actually more like veal--or bologna). I want pigmeat or cowmeat in the sausage.


Mary Coleman said...

I do know what you mean. This whole sausage experience has changed my thinking for life. Joyce Goldstein's Mediterranean Kitchen has about 10 different recipes for sausages. All types.
I am most definitely going to make more of these. A little bit of effort should go a long way. If I get good at this, I'll send you some!

Anonymous said...


Don't wait until it's perfect, somebody has to eat the experiments! Seems to me that I've seen casings that are not too disgusting. I'll have to check on that. I think, though, that you are not making links; is that correct.

There's a sausage place in Omaha, NE called Stoysich. They make about 100 different kinds, some I can live without. There are lots of guys up here in the boonies that make venison sausage--a few know what they're doing.