Merguez Sausage Couscous

1 lb Merguez sausage, chopped into 1/2″ lengths

1 medium onion, chopped fine

4 T unsalted clarified butter, in all (see note)

1 bell pepper, cut into 1/2″ dice

4 small zucchini, cut into a 1/2″ dice

1 tsp turmeric

3/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper

1 1/2 T tomato paste

3 1/2 cups chicken stock1 3″ long stick cinnamon

1 large bay leaf

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp Hungarian hot paprika

1 can (14.5 oz) small white beans, drained

one box instant couscous

Heat a large casserole on high for 30 seconds, then add 1 tablespoon clarified butter and let it heat for 30 seconds. Add the chopped bell pepper and stir until the pepper is somewhat browned. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pepper to a bowl, and in the same casserole heat 1 more tablespoon clarified butter. Add the zucchini and stir for about 10 minutes, until cooked and somewhat browned. Remove to the bowl and add a third tablespoon of clarified butter. Heat, then fry the onions until soft and slightly browned, then add the lamb sausage and fry, stirring frequently, until the sausage pieces are browned and have rendered all their fat. Add the turmeric, cayenne, tomato paste, chicken stock, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, cumin and paprika, and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, prepare the couscous according to package directions. I like to add 1 tsp salt and 1 T butter to the water, whether it says to or not. After the couscous is cooked and has been fluffed, let it sit, covered, until needed.

When the stew has simmered 30 minutes, uncover it and add the bell pepper-zucchini mix, and the canned (drained) beans. Simmer until the beans are heated through. Give the prepared couscous a final fluff, and arrange it in a ring in a large bowl or on a large serving platter. Pour the lamb stew into the space in the middle and serve. I like to serve couscous with a salad made of spring greens to which I have added bits of mint or Thai basil, dressed with a nice vinagrette.

Note: Clarified butter is butter from which the milk-fat solids have been removed, which means you can bring it to a higher heat, suitable for frying. It’s very easy to make. Melt one or two sticks of unsalted butter over low heat in a heavy-bottomed pan. The milk-fat solids will separate out and rise to the top as a white foam. Turn off the heat and skim off as much of the foam as you can with a spoon, then remove the rest by straining the butter through several layers of cheesecloth. Use when pan frying fish or steaks, among other things. Store in a covered glass jar in the refrigerator.

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