Merguez, Fennel And Preserved Lemon Stuffing
serves 6-8 as a side dish
Stuffing gets a North African touch with merguez sausage, preserved lemons and Deglet Noor dates. You can use any kind of stale bread in this recipe -- toasting it ensures that the liquid will be well-absorbed.
1 cup dates, chopped
1/4 cup Cointreau
2 cups cubed crustless bread
3/4 pound cubed cornbread
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound merguez sausage (4 small), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium carrot, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 bulb fennel, sliced
1 small preserved lemon, diced
2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups water
prep: 30 minutes
total: 1 hour 10 minutes
1.Preheat the oven to 375F. Combine the chopped dates and the Cointreau; leave to soak while everything else is prepared. Spread the bread (and cornbread) cubes on a baking sheet and toast for 5-8 minutes to dry them out.
2. In the skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering; cook the merguez sausage for 5 minutes.
3. Add the diced carrot, celery, onion and sliced fennel to the merguez and sauté until softened, 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool before adding the rest of the ingredients, 10 minutes.
4. Stir the diced preserved lemon, fennel fronds, parsley and soaked chopped dates into the merguez and vegetable mixture. Make sure to add any liquid left in with the chopped dates.
5. In a large bowl, combine the merguez mixture with the toasted bread cubes and toss well to coat.
6. Lightly beat the eggs with the salt and the water before adding to the bread cubes and merguez mixture. If the bread and merguez mixture appears too dry, add a bit more water, up to 1/2 cup.
7. Lightly oil a casserole dish and spoon in the bread cube and merguez mixture. Mound it firmly in the dish and drizzle with olive oil, bake for 30-40 minutes until the crust is light brown and crispy.