You just gotta hate when you pull in kitchen reinforcements to help you get through a project and they just kick you culinary butt up and down the island.
I have to admit I was hurtling toward the deadline, and I hadn’t attempted this month’s Charcutepalooza bulk sausage challenge. Not only did my friend and neighbor Ann find a great deal on the lamb required to make merguez, she also came up with a recipe using the final product that was simply way more interesting than my preferred way for eating it.
You see, I couldn’t get past the fact that this lovely, rich, spicy stuff (we followed Mr. Ruhlman’s recipe that includes pork back fat, red wine and roasted red peppers) was pretty much perfection in fried patty form. And it served as the ideal meaty companion for the pastured spring eggs and the fresh local asparagus I picked up at opening day of the Farmers on the Square market last week. OK, for those of you who may not realize it, that last sentence was a totally shameless plug for the seasonal, producer-only market I will be managing here in Carlisle, Pennsylvania every Wednesday afternoon from last week until late November.
Ann is one of only a handful of friends and acquaintances who is still willing to cook for me since I graduated from cooking school and earned the title of sous chef at Trattoria Piatto, one of the nicer places to dine in the Carlisle area. She also holds two very deep, dark secret about my eating habits.
I eat EVERYTHING, especially if it includes cheese. And my favorite PMS food-like substance is a bag of ranch-flavored Doritos, eaten without a break, followed by a 20-ounce Diet Coke.
Bucking my low-brow tendencies toward snack foods, she hit a home run with the merguez-stuffed mini-peppers she served to me and Andy on her wrap-around porch on Friday evening. And I can say in all honesty, that I made that particular determination well before I indulged a little bit too much in the raspberry mojitos her husband made. But seeing as we are all friends here, I can admit that I really liked those too.
Ann mixed the bulk sausage we made with half its volume in goat cheese, added a bit of cilantro and black pepper and baked the stuffed, finger-sized red and yellow peppers until they were just soft and the very top of the exposed lamb had just started to crisp up. Yes, she was more creative than I and she gave me permission to share her recipe with all of you. Enjoy!
Ann’s Merguez-stuffed baby sweet peppers
10 miniature red, yellow and orange bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
6 oz merguez
3 oz chevre at room temperature
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Several good grinds of black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil.
Place sausage, cheese, cilantro and black pepper in a small bowl and using your hands, combine the ingredients completely.
Stuff the peppers with the sausage mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the peppers start to soften and the sausage crisps up just a tiny bit on top. Serve warm.