Serves a Crowd

Fennel, Merguez, and Preserved Meyer Lemon Braise

January 25, 2013
4 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This dish is Tunisian-inspired, with admittedly tentative moorings to tradition. All the ingredients are roasted together (with the exception of the couscous), leading to
a balanced marriage of flavors. The resulting vegetables are soft, and seasoned with
pan juices. The finished sauce is complex and spiced, and the couscous downy, and
ever so slightly flavored with the good olive oil I stirred into it. —Cristina Sciarra

What You'll Need
  • 4 cups chicken stock (homemade if possible)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 nub of fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon harissa
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 4-6 merguez sausages
  • 1/2 cup gem-green olives
  • 1 14-ounce can chickpeas
  • 1 whole preserved Meyer lemon, quartered
  • 1 1/2 cups couscous
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil
  1. Heat the oven to 350F. On the stovetop, heat the chicken stock. Let it come to a simmer as you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Everything goes into the same casserole dish: run the garlic cloves and the ginger through a microplane grater, so they both come out as paste. (For the ginger, you want about 1 tablespoon of 'ginger paste.') Add the harissa, the cumin, the cinnamon, and the bay leaf.
  3. After removing the stalks and the outer layer, roughly chop the fennel, and add the pieces to the casserole. (If you like, save the fennel fronds for garnish.) Cut the onion lengthwise, and thinly slice both halves. Peel and halve the carrot, and then cut each half into three somewhat even pieces. (You want each carrot piece to cook at more or less at the same rate.) Move all the vegetables to the casserole dish, along with the merguez sausages (you can poke each sausage all over with a knife tip, so the skin doesn't pop in the oven), the green olives, and the chickpeas (rinse the can goop off first). Add the preserved Meyer lemon wedges to the casserole too, making sure to pick off the seeds, if you haven't already.
  4. The chicken stock should be hot by now; pour it over the casserole dish. Use a spoon to mix the ingredients a bit, to integrate the garlic, ginger, harissa, cumin, and cinnamon into the broth. You want there to be enough broth so that the ingredients are 2/3 of the way covered. (If you find this isn't the case, you can add extra stock, or even water, so that it is.) Now move the casserole to the oven. Let everything cook together for 1 hour.
  5. While the casserole is in the oven, make the couscous. (I used Tunisian couscous, but it's up to you. You could even use another grain, like quinoa.) I brought 2 heaping cups of water to a boil, then turned off the heat and added my couscous. Secure the lid on top of the pot, and let the grain sit for 8-10 minutes. Lift off the lid-- the water should be dissolved and the couscous ready. Stir in 1-2 tablespoons of good quality olive oil (for flavor, and so the grains won't stick), and salt to taste. You can leave the couscous on the stovetop, covered, until you're ready to serve.
  6. After 1 hour, remove the casserole from the oven. The colors should have intensified, and the non-submerged bits of sausage and vegetable will look wrinkled and roasty.
  7. (Carefully) separate the solids from the juices (it's hot!). The solids can hang out for a second, while you move the juices to a wide, flat pan. Turn the range to medium high, and cook the juices until reduced by 1/2. The sauce should be thicken a little, and be really flavorful. Adjust the seasonings as you see fit. (With the salt from the preserved lemons, I didn't need to add any seasonings, but use your best judgment.)
  8. Now plate everything together: Divide the couscous among the plates. Pile the vegetables, and 1-2 merguez sausages per person on top. Finish with a generous pour of the sauce. Enjoy hot.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Rebecca Cherry
    Rebecca Cherry
  • Cristina Sciarra
    Cristina Sciarra
  • sara_ann
  • Judith Piper
    Judith Piper
Cristina is a writer, cook, and day job real estate developer. She studied literature, holds an MFA in Fiction Writing, and completed the Basic Cuisine course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She lives in Jersey City with her husband--a Frenchman she met in Spain--and their sweet black cat, Minou. Follow her writings, recipes, publications and photography at

7 Reviews

sara_ann January 21, 2016
This was delicious and a big hit with the whole family.
Judith P. July 3, 2013
This sounds like a tagine recipe because of the veggies and spices that usually make a fabulous, flavorful sauce.
carswell February 10, 2013
I finally dragged my merguez sausages out of the freezer today and made this recipe. For the record - I did not use anywhere near as much stock as the recipe called for - 4 cups seemed an inordinate amount. I used about a cup and a half - and roasted the whole kit and caboodle for about an hour and a half - there was no need to reduce the pan juices.

I served it over rice since I had no couscous in the pantry. I feel it turned out really well - and I'll make it again.
Rebecca C. February 10, 2013
It was good but not as great as I expected it to be. The veggies and sausage got overcooked being in there for an hour. The sauce was OK but more just spicy hot than rich in flavor. I wonder if sautéing the veggies (fennel, onion, carrot) prior to oven time would maintain their flavor better? and, maybe, putting the whole dish in for less time. As for the sauce, maybe more cinnamon and lemon? plus, I recently saw lamb stock, I wonder about using that.
Cristina S. February 10, 2013
Rebecca, I kept the vegetable pieces quite large, so they turned out pleasantly soft, but not overcooked. I'm sorry the recipe didn't live up to your expectations, but feel free to fiddle with it according to your personal preferences.
carswell January 28, 2013
Serendipity - I just bought merguez sausages on the weekend! I think I'll pick up some fennel and green olives on the way home tonight. I've kept preserved lemons in my fridge as a staple ever since buying a north African cookbook years ago.
Cristina S. January 29, 2013
Perfect! I hope the recipe worked out for you!