Gourmandistan

Merguez stew somewhat reduces bean surplus

Bean and Merguez StewHaving snapped up quite a few containers at a recent farmers’ market, Gourmandistan currently has a surfeit of dried beans. Trying to decide what to do with some of them, Michelle came across a recipe from Steve Sando, founder of the Rancho Gordo heirloom bean company patronized by chefs such as Thomas Keller.

Dried beans

Sando’s recipe called for marrow beans, which are white. Since we had made white chili not long ago (reminder: buy our book!), Michelle went with a different hue, choosing instead red kidney beans. Sando said his recipe took “inspiration from North Africa,” so we scrounged in our pantry, refrigerator and freezer to find North-African-ish substitutes for pistachios, lemon zest and collards (we chose almonds, preserved lemons and spinach).

Preserved lemon

We’re not sure if we made it more “North African,” but we were “inspired” by the blend of spice, heat and sweetness in the stew. We still have many beans to go through—but this richly layered stew was a very good start.

BEAN AND MERGUEZ STEW

(adapted from Steve Sando’s recipe on D’Artagnan’s website)

  • 1/2 pound dried beans (we used kidney beans), picked over and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • Splash of olive oil
  • 1/2 to 3/4 lb. merguez sausage
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper
  • Salt and coarsely-ground black pepper
  • 1/2 c. parsley, chopped
  • 2 tsp. preserved lemon, finely chopped (or substitute regular lemon peel)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons harissa paste
  • 1 bunch spinach, stems removed and leaves cut into wide ribbons
  • Toasted almonds
  • Honey

Soak beans ahead of time if you want. We don’t usually bother. In a soup pot, cover beans generously with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

While beans are cooking, toast coriander and cumin in a small skillet. Mash with a mortar and pestle or grind in a spice grinder.

Prick the sausage with a fork, then fry it in a skillet with a tiny bit of olive oil. (If the sausage is really fatty, you may have to cover with a lid.) Remove the sausage and drain on paper towels.

Discard most of the fat from the skillet, but keep at least a tablespoon or so. Fry the onion, celery and garlic in the fat from the sausage, tossing occasionally with a spatula, until the vegetables are soft and slightly browned. Stir in the coriander, cumin, Aleppo pepper, some salt and black pepper. Add the vegetable mixture to the beans.

Cut the cooked sausages into 1-1/2″ pieces and refrigerate.

Continue simmering the beans, covered, adding more water if necessary, until they are softened. Add parsley, preserved lemon, lemon juice and harissa. Check for seasoning. Can be made ahead to this point.

Remove sausage from refrigerator and warm in a skillet while soup is reheating. Just before serving, add spinach to beans and gently stir in.

Serve beans in bowls, topped with sausage pieces, almonds and a drizzle of honey.

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36 comments

    • Can’t have too many. 🙂 We used to make them ourselves. But now I’ve decided it’s so much easier (and less pressure to use them up!) just to buy one or two at a time at the grocery. Amazing we’ve come so far that we can actually buy them at the grocery.

  1. Eha

    This really appeals tho’ shall use my favourite cannellini beans and homemade preserved lemons. Thanks also for the ‘Rancho Gordo’ link: hope to get some interesting recipes in the newsletters !!

  2. This really looks good and your timing could not have been better. Our temps are heading into chili weather and I, too, couldn’t resist the beans as the farmers markets closed.

    • Ours temps are headed that way, too, John. Is it awful for me to admit that I’ve really enjoyed these (very strange) warm November days? Last year, I bought a couple of packages of dried beans at the markets and was just amazed at how great they were. But, when I returned for more, they were gone. I was determined not to let that happen this year!

  3. YUM! This is only the second time in my foodie explorations that I’ve heard of merguez sausage (the other is a recipe I’ve bookmarked for merguez sausage with beetroot, puy lentils and feta) and I’m now even more curious to try it. Great final shot of the dish!

    • I was wondering (and googled a bit) what beans are most used in Africa. Though I know that’s a stupid question because Africa is a gigantic place. What beans are most used in your area?

  4. Beautiful! I love beans. I should say I still love beans. During our lean years that’s all we could afford. Then my husband was a vegetarian for about 10 years so I continued to cook them. The only thing I don’t do anymore is make bean-based burgers, which are so so good, but I’ve forgotten about those. But beans and merguez? yes please.

  5. I only buy small portions of dried beans which means I run out often. Maybe I should invest in more and put them front and centre so I’m reminded to use them. This stew sounds delicious and I bet it’s great for leftovers too. I just love merguez sausages.

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