recipes barefoot contessa

Spicy Merguez with Spinach and White Beans (Serves 4 to 6)

Copyright 2006, Braise, by Daniel Boulud and Melissa Clark, All Rights Reserved

Photo: Quentin Bacon

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 pounds spinach, stems removed, washed and dried
2 medium onions peeled and cut into small cubes
6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon harissa or ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon Four-Spice Power
½ pound dried cannellini beans, black-eyed peas, soaked overnight in cold water and drained
2 pounds merguez sausage: 1 long link or individual links
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
Coarse sea salt or kosher salt

Four Spice Powder
2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 heaping tablespoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
2. Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a wide cast-iron pot or Dutch oven over high heat. Add the spinach, little by little, and cook, stirring continuously, until all the spinach has wilted and browned slightly and all the liquid has evaporated, 20 to 30 minutes.
3. Add the onions, garlic, mint, cilantro, harissa (or cayenne), black pepper, and Four-Spice Powder and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
4. Pour in 4 cups water and add the cannellini beans (or black-eyed peas). Stir, bring to a simmer, and cover. Braise in the oven for 2 hours, or until the beans are nearly tender.
5. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Sear the merguez on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain.
6. Stir the lemon juice into the beans and place the seared merguez on top. Cover and continue to braise until the beans are tender and the sausage is cooked through, about 30 minutes more. Season with salt to taste.

Four Spice Powder
In a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder, finely grind the cloves and black pepper together. Transfer to a bowl and combine with the nutmeg and ginger.