daniel boulud's spicy merguez with spinach and white beans

daniel boulud\'s spicy merguez with spinach and white beans
2 tsp cloves
1 tbsp black peppercorns
2 tsp nutmeg
freshly grated
1 tsp ginger
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 lbs spinach
stems removed, washed and dried
2 whole onion
diced into small cubes
6 cloves garlic
finely chopped
2 tbsp mint
fresh, chopped
2 tbsp cilantro
1 tbsp harissa
could also use 0.25 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tsp black pepper
freshly ground
1/2 tsp four-spice powder
1/2 lb cannellini beans
dried, soaked overnight in cold water and drained, could also use black-eyed peas or dried chickpeas
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs merguez sausage
either 1 long link or individual links
1/4 cup lemon juice
freshly squeezed, about 2 lemons
coarse salt
This is a comforting and complete meal. While it requires some lead time and lots of passive time, all the hands-on work is relatively easy. Leftovers are great the next day.
Soak the cannellini beans the night before. When you kick off cooking the next day, set up by centering a rack in the oven and preheating it to 300°F. Screw in an oven-safe lid handle for the dutch oven if you have one.
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 to make the four-spice powder.
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.
Add the onions, garlic, mint, cilantro, harissa (or cayenne), black pepper, and four-spice powder and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
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.
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.
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.
Whenever I put a dutch oven inside the oven, I always swap out the knob for a stainless one. According to the Le Creuset website, the knobs are heat-resistant between 375-480°F. The black phenolic lid knobs on our Signature range of enameled cast iron are heat-resistant to 480°F / 250°C. The black phenolic lid knobs on our Classic range of enameled cast iron are heat-resistant to 375°F / 190°C. Products with integral cast iron handles or stainless steel knobs can be used at any oven temperature.