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Photo by: Ditte Isager
This is a meal in itself that doesn’t require anything else. I first tasted merguez sausages, which are made with lamb or beef, deep in the souks of Marrakech when I was there years ago for a photo shoot. It’s a thin, long sausage that is very spicy and adds incredible flavor to any dish. In 2005, I returned to Morocco to film a remake of The Ten Commandments, playing Princess Bithia. The first thing I did was to have a plate of merguez and couscous. Moroccan food is wonderful, with a mix of European, Arab, and African influences. Moroccans use nuts and dried fruits, saffron, preserved lemons, and a number of spices, too. This dish incorporates many of the flavors I love most about this country’s cooking. I use harissa, a hot, red chili paste that usually comes in a tube, like toothpaste. It’s easy to find in Middle Eastern markets, but you can substitute plain red cayenne for it in a pinch (use the same measurement given below for the harissa.) Merguez is also great to serve when you need a sausage for those who don’t eat pork.
1. Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and bay leaves; stir, and then add the shallots. Stir-fry for 2 minutes and add the oregano.
2. Add the sausage and stir-fry for an additional 5 minutes on medium-high heat. Add the fennel and harissa. When grease starts to appear and the meat is dark brown, add the stock. Simmer for 2 minutes.
3. Add the cranberries and chopped dill. Pour in the couscous, stir well, and turn off the heat. Cover the pot immediately and let the dish steam for 15 to 20 minutes.
4. If the couscous is not soft and fluffy, sprinkle a couple of teaspoons of boiling stock or water over it, cover, and steam for a few minutes. Be careful not to add too much water. The couscous should not be mushy. Garnish with the sumac. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Nutrients per serving (% daily value)
Nutritional information is based on 6 servings.
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