Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Merguez with White Bean Puree

I'm definitely slipping. The 'no meat on weekdays' oath which Mrs Ribeye and I took months and months ago has been replaced by 'not much week on weekdays'. This week (if I'm honest) it has been replaced by 'no meat-free weekdays.

Why? Because it is -2C today and my primeval self is telling me to go out and kill and eat a dinosaur. Being a veggie or a fish-eater (I'm NOT using the word 'pescatarian' - it's too wanky) during the week is fine during those balmy summer months, but in December in a drafty flat in London? No bloody way.

Today's dish combines my two favourite sins: Gluttony and Sloth. Checking the miserable weather from window and not fancying braving the 200 yards from my house to the local Waitrose, I decided that dinner was going to be Things-I-Find-Around-The-House. Of course then, merguez from the fridge and beans from a jar it had to be.

I bought these essential store-cupboard (well, freezer, in the case of the sausages) ingredients while on our last trip to our frog-eating garlicky neighbours in September, knowing that at some stage in the coming months I would be sitting in my 'lounge wear' and not wanting to tear myself away from the TV (Iron Chef America is my latest addiction - 'Alllllez Cuisine!').

Merguez (or 'mergs' as my father Mr Ribeye Sr likes to call them), are north African lamb sausages spiced with earthy aromas like cumin, caraway, coriander and chilli and stained a deep dark red by paprika maybe. Anyway, they are sublime. You can find them all over France, but not much over here - maybe in an exotic food purveyor, but certainly not in average supermarkets. Shame really, because they are versatile and easy to cook and more interesting to serve for a special dinner than English bangers and mash.

But mash is exactly what I will be serving these sausages with. White bean puree to be exact. The puree recipe is straight from my mother's repertoire - she's been buying French beans in jars for years, and reckons they're better than our English counterparts. I agree. They are softer and more yielding and a bit easier to break down into a lovely rich nubbly mash. Perfect bland stodge to go with the spicy mergs.

So, dinner in 15 minutes, no shopping - because I did that three months ago - and a plate full of high calorie deliciousness to eat on a cold day. Now that's no sin.

All in, this dish comes in at £2 per serving. On a cursory online inspection I noticed merguez in a shop for £12 per kilo. Are you kidding? Better to spend a few hundred quid going to France and bringing them back yourself. Come on! I didn't say cheaper, I said better.

Serves 2


6 merguez sausages (or other high quality bangers)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 x 500g jar of white beans, drained and rinsed to remove the gloop
Salt and pepper
Fresh parsley, for garnishing

In a 200c oven, bake the sausages on an unoiled baking sheet for 15 minutes. While the merguez are cooking, fry the garlic in the olive oil until soft, then add the drained beans. With a fork, break down the beans until you have a nubbly puree - not a smooth paste. Season to taste and pile onto a serving dish. Top with the cooked merguez and garnish with parsley.

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