I’m experiencing some serious wanderlust right now. And it’s completely uncalled for because I’m going to Argentina for 9 days over New Years and that should be enough vacation anticipation for anyone, right?
I think it’s because this time last year I was in London so now I feel like that’s just where I should be when the weather goes from crisp to cool and we have to bring out our light coats and scarves.
(Although we actually had the most glorious weather while we were there – sun practically the whole time, very un-British.)
It just seems like the thing to do right now is get on an international flight and wake up somewhere else. I’m not even picky, it doesn’t have to be London – it could be Paris. See how openminded I am?
On Tuesday I scratched that itch at Buvette, my new favorite place in NYC. It’s a tiny little café on a quiet street in the West Village that feels like a Parisian bistro. The menu is adorable – I mean it has pop-ups, seriously? – although limited.
It’s better suited to sharing some meat and cheese over a glass of wine from their well appointed selection than a full dinner. Which is not to say you can’t fill up – you can have a full dinner plus 2…ok 3 glasses of wine plus a slice of tarte tatin and you’ll be extremely happy albeit broke with all hopes of buying that plane ticket to Paris dashed.
But I digress.
The recipe I’m trying to share isn’t particularly Parisian although I’ve read it’s popular there. It makes me think of Spain and hails from North Africa.
(Wait, one more digression: when I studied abroad in Cadiz we took a day trip to the southernmost point in Spain and you could see the mountains in Morocco from there. It was so cool.)
I bet homemade sausage doesn’t sound like an easy weeknight undertaking – but it is! The fanciest thing you need to buy is harissa which they sell at Trader Joe’s now meaning it’s all over, and takes like 30 minutes or less to come together.
You serve it with an herby yogurt that complements the mild spice in the merguez. We stuffed ours in pita with accoutrements from our favorite Lebanese place, Omar’s – they have the most fantastic, creamy hummus drizzled in olive oil that actually tastes like it comes from olives.
That plus tabbouleh and the tahini and hot sauces they serve on the side and we had a pretty delightful and transportive meal. We thought we were in Morocco – or Cadiz – or Paris – or Sutton Place. Whatever.
77 days till Argentina!
Lamb merguez with herby yogurt
(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
Note: I made a few adjustments to the original – omitting the 1/2 teaspoon of ground fennel seeds because I hate fennel and the 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander because too many ingredients. Instead I upped the cumin to 1 teaspoon.
For the herby yogurt:
1/2 cup plain yogurt
A handful of finely chopped leafy fresh herbs (I used cilantro and mint –parsley, chives and dill would be nice too)
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, or more to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet or smoky paprika
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons harissa paste or other hot sauce (I reduced to 1 tablespoon for my heat-averse boyfriend)
1 pound ground lamb, at room temperature
To serve, optional
Shredded red cabbage
To make the herby yogurt, mix the yogurt, finely chopped herbs and vinegar in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and extra vinegar if you’d like. Cover and place in the fridge until ready to serve.
To make the merguez, combine lamb, spices, garlic, harissa and 1 teaspoon salt and mix to combine. I recommend using your hands, it’s more fun that way. Form into 12 patties.*
Then heat a large, heavy skillet, such as cast iron, over high heat. Coat with olive oil and once it’s very hot, add a few sausage mounds. Once they hit the frying pan, flatten them with the back of your spatula. Cook until brown and crispy underneath, then flip and cook for another minute or two.** Drain on paper towels and repeat with remaining meat.
Serve patties warm with herby yogurt and accompaniments of your preference – we recommend pita, lemon wedges, tahini and prepared hummus.
*: Deb’s do-it-ahead trick – You can keep the mixed meat patties and herbed yogurt in the fridge for up to 3 days.
**: Some of my patties were a little rare in the middle which is ok but with ground sausage I’d prefer it cooked all the way. Make sure your sausages are actually crispy (but not burned) and you should be good.
Homemade merguez with herby yogurt: https://smittenkitchen.com/2016/09/homemade-merguez-with-herby-yogurt/