Saturday, February 6, 2010

Merguez Mini Meatloaves

I am in love, again - with the shiny new KitchenAid stand mixer that now resides in my kitchen. It has already stirred biscotti and Spritz cookies, kneaded pizza dough and French baguettes, and been a counter adornment. It's time to task it and me with something new, completely new, something more challenging. Something like... homemade sausage, that's a new arena.

I am not really a big fan of sausage, or hot dogs, links, meatloaf, or anything else that relies on a mixture of smooshed up mystery ingredients and fat. Besides, sausage makes me burp and the taste plays reruns for ages. That said, one of my 2010 resolutions is to master the art of sausage making. My logic is that if I can control what's in the blend, I can improve on the taste and diminish the aftereffects.

Now my KitchenAid has company, thanks to easy ordering from A yet-unused meat grinder attachment, a sausage stuffer device, Bruce Aidell's Complete Sausage Book and Michael Ruhlman's Charcuterie now join the crowd of must-have gadgets and cookbooks in my kitchen. Further research is needed to track down a local source for sausage casings, but I'm working on it. And I am still reading the books and finding sausage making hints, recipes and blogs online.

Lately we have been taste-testing the ingredients for Merguez sausage, using preground lamb and Italian sausage links, with a combination of interesting spices and fresh produce. I have not strayed too far from a blend of two Aidell recipes, though the resulting Merguez patties and mini meatloaves are so tasty we might never make it to the sausage stuffing stage. 

Merguez Mini Meatloaves
Adapted from Bruce Aidells’ Complete Sausage Book and Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie

1.5 LB ground lamb
1.5 LB ground turkey or chicken thighs
     or 1.5  LB mild Italian sausage (links or loose)
1/3 cup onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (or cilantro)
2 TB chopped garlic
1/3 cup finely chopped sundried tomatoes packed in oil
2 TB olive oil from the sundried tomatoes
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 TB sweet Hungarian paprika
1 TB smoked Spanish paprika
1 TB kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
2 TB chopped fresh mint or 2 tsp dried mint
1 TB tomato paste
1 TB lemon juice
2 tsp graped lemon zest
2 tsp fennel seed, ground in spice grinder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground tumeric
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes
¾ cup finely chopped red bell pepper  
1  egg, beaten
Tzatziki - Cucumber and Yogurt Sauce (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 375. Use kitchen spray to oil a pan of muffin-sized Bundt cups - you know, the ones with the cone in the middle to make a hole. No Bundt muffin pan? Substitute custard cups, large muffin tins or small ramekins - they all work.

Place the onions in a microwavable bowl, cover with water and cook just to soften. Drain, rinse with cold water to cool, and then drain again. 

Remove the casings from the sausage (if using links) and add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Use your hands to blend thoroughly; don’t smoosh it heavily, just mix and mix and mix.

Fry a small, flat patty until done (no pink remaining) and taste for salt, pepper and other seasonings. Adjust as needed.

Scoop out a ½ cup or so of the mix and plop it into a prepared Bundt cup, packing lightly and leveling the top. The mix should yield six mini meatloaves, depending upon the containers and how full they are filled. Bake until you measure an internal temperature of 160 degrees, roughly 25 minutes. If the tops look too moist, briefly broil to add a crisp crust.
Remove to a heated serving plate, and serve with a side of tzatziki - cucumber and yogurt sauce.

Makes 1 ¾ cups

1 English cucumber, peeled and diced into tiny chunks
1 cup Greek yogurt (plain)
2 TB lemon juice
2 TB lemon zest
1 TB fresh mint, chopped or 1 tsp dried mint
1 ½ TB fresh dill, chopped or ½ tsp dried dill
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Place cucumber chunks in a strainer; add salt and toss gently. Place strainer over a bowl and let sit awhile you work on the meatloaves. You will be amazed at the quantity of liquid that drains out! Rinse the cucumbers thoroughly under cold water; drain again and wring in a clean tea towel to remove as much moisture as possible without reducing the cukes to moosh. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. The flavors will blend and intensify as they sit. The sauce will keep overnight in a covered container in the refrigerator, but will need to be used within a day or two.

We love these formed as mini loaves or as patties served with Tzatziki sauce and accompanied by sides of a Greek-style panzanella salad and lemon-roasted potatoes or lemony potato salad. A dessert of wine-poached pears with honey-flavored Greek yogurt finished the latest Merguez meal, but we ate them before I could grab a photo.

 Greek Panzanella Salad (below) and Lemony Potato Salad (above)


  1. Yum, I'll book a meal at your table any day!

  2. Okay, I admit it, I am deeply humbled by each of your Galley posts. I will never reach such heights in my galley. And, yes, we would love to be guinea pigs, too! Hope to see you this summer, if not before!


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