Merguez Sausages with Couscous and Fennel

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
1 cup diced shallots
1 teaspoon dried oregano
8½ ounces merguez sausage, cut into 1-inch-long pieces
2 cups chopped fresh fennel bulb (discarding green stalky tops)
½ teaspoon harissa paste
2 cups chicken stock
2 cup dried cranberries
½ cup chopped fresh dill
1 cup couscous
1 teaspoon sumac

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.

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.

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.

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.

© 2007 Padma Lakshmi

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