Thursday, September 14, 2006

Couscous With Merguez and Summer Vegetables

Today, I'm going to show you how to make a great summer couscous since my ancient, operating system refuses to allow me to convey a video of an escaping sea urchin (really cute!) onto blogger. It's all my fault, really. I've allowed my tech-genius of a husband to continue to extend the lifespan of my elderly computer which he does marvelously BTW, only sometimes there are limits to what this old relic can achieve (the computer, NOT the husband). So the seemingly endless saga of the sea urchin has come to an end and we cross the Mediterranean and head for Morocco. If you've never tried Moroccan merguez sausage before, by all means, do since it is delicious. I discovered it in Paris this summer, where it's as common as hot dogs are in Chicago and then I discovered that I can get it in Milan any day I want at one of the nearby halal butchers (not the at Egyptians' around the corner but at the Moroccans' down on via Padova)Actually, if you ask the Egyptians for merguez the look at you a little funny and say, "but we're Egyptians" since evidently that precludes one from selling merguez. The Moroccans, however break out into a big smile and say, "so, you like Moroccan food!" I love the halal butchers. See the end part of this post if you want to know more reasons why.

Here's the recipe:

½ lb merguez sausage chopped into ½ in pieces
2 small onions, chopped fine
2 tablespoons butter
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp ground cayenne pepper
4 tsp tomato paste
3 cups chicken broth
1½ cups water
1 red bell pepper, in a ½ inch dice
2 zucchini in a ½ inch dice
2 (3 in) cinnamon sticks
1 bay leaf
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 cup canned fava beans
1½ cups couscous

In a large saucepan melt 1 tbsp of butter and sautee the red bell pepper and zucchini until lightly browned. Remove. In the same pot, melt the other tbsp of butter and sautee the onion until soft, then add the merguez sausage and brown evenly. Music to brown merguez by:Moroccan reggae artists, Ganga Vibes! Add the turmeric, cayenne, tomato paste, chicken broth, water, cinnamon, bay, cumin and paprika, bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer gently uncovered for 20 minutes until you have created a flavorful broth. Ladle out 1 cup of the broth and place it in a smaller pot. Return the zucchini and bell pepper to the large saucepan and add the can of fava beans (with their juices if the merguez-vegetable mixture is on the dry side). Bring the 1 cup of broth to a boil, turn off heat and stir in couscous. Let stand off heat 5 minutes.
To serve: Fluff couscous with a fork and pour it out onto a serving plate. Make a large well in the center and pour the merguez-vegetable stew into the center.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Susan!

This is just beautiful!

6:39 AM  
Blogger Rowena said...

Wahhhhhh! I was hoping to see the runaway urchins but I hear ya on the pc limitations. I can't even download videos with my dial-up, he just takes my stuff to work and does it there.

Moroccan food?! Ooh yeah...I was just thinking about that pidgeon pie, pastilla, bisteeya, however it's called. With this yucky weather, colorful ethnic food eaten with fingers sounds like a great idea. ;-) Gotta check out that halal butcher next time I'm over there!

9:27 AM  
Blogger Corrie said...

the photo is great! we've been doing a lot of couscous during the summer. antonello hates pasta during the summer, and i've convinced him that couscous is quite different than pasta... :) yes, we take small steps.

9:48 AM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Ivonne, Thanks so much!

Rowena, What if I e-mailed you the video file? Do you think it would be too big to download? It's 20 seconds long. There's a halal butcher on every corner in my neighborhood!

Hi Stelle, (Jackie? Corrie?) Is the pasta too hot for summer? How else do you do couscous? I'd love to know. I now have most of a 1 kilo box of it waiting for ideas.

1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How much merguez do you recommend using with this recipe?

4:45 PM  
Blogger hellomelissa said...

would chorizo be an acceptable substitute?

because halal butcher in pittsboro? SNORT! that would be hilarious.

5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That sounds wonderful, Susan. I'm guessing, coming from Morocco, that merguez is lamb, or maybe beef? No pork though.

Melissa, you can get lamb sausages at Whole Foods in Chapel Hill. And, not far from you, in Siler City, there actually is a halal butchery, Chaudhry Halal Meats. Don't think they do retail, but they process lamb and goat for a lot of local farmers, like Fickle Creek in Mebane.

6:52 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Beth, Thank you for pointing that out! I failed to include the merguez in the ingredients list (I was a space cadet yesterday). There should be 1/2 pound of it.

Hi Melissa, I'm thinking you mean Mexican chorizo not Spanish? I actually wouldn't use that since it's got so much flavor and personality (I love Mex chorizo and sadly have to make it myself out here) and the flavor is really different from merguez. Maybe if you use a mild sausage and up the spices a bit, the result would be similar? Or follow Scott's advice. Let me know if you do this and how it turns out.

Hi Scott, Thanks for the info! Merguez is indeed supposed to be lamb and any halal butcher would sell the lamb version but in France they also make pork merguez.

11:27 PM  
Blogger hellomelissa said...

susan, this is turning into a sausage sounding board!

WOW scott! my kids go to dance right behind whole foods later this morning, and i actually go to walmart in siler city. i'll go to chaudhry this week. thank you!

1:58 PM  
Blogger Lotus Reads said...

Susan! This sounds so delightfully easy to make and what's more, the kids and I just LOVE Morroccan food! We have a restaurant here in Toronto that serves Jewish-Moroccan food and as they never take reservations, one has to go as early as 5:00pm and wait in line, sometimes for as long as an hour, to get a table for the evening!

I look forward to making this dish, thanks Susan!

2:31 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Lotus, That Jewish-Moroccan place sounds really cool. How does it differ from Muslim Moroccan food?

7:18 PM  
Blogger Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Susan! To be honest, I don't know, except to say that everything is kosher and there are no dairy products served. They seem to have all the well-known Morroccan dishes like Tagine, couscous,the beef sausages, food from the meshoui etc.

2:46 AM  
Blogger a.c.t. said...

That's sounds amazing. I'll do it very soon before it gets too un-summery. I've got some smoked sausage which we got in Lisbon so I'll use that instead.

1:51 PM  
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