I'd been eyeing the recipe since I first unwrapped the book: Marcus Samuelsson's The Soul of a New Cuisine. The recipe? Merguez meatballs, which I've mentioned were on the hit-list before.
While the first dish to be made from the book was Chicken-Peanut Stew, I knew it wouldn't be too long before the meatballs would be on the table. What took me by surprise was the fact that I wasn't the one to make them. I bought the ingredients, and got started in the kitchen, but Palle came to help me out, and ended up doing all of the actual meatball creation and cooking, while I busied myself making rice and a somewhat less-spicy version of Spicy Carrot Coins. Why less spicy? Welll, because I wanted the spices in the merguez to shine through, and I didn't want too much cross-flavour contamination.
The meatballs were a resounding hit - the deliciousness of spiced lamb sausage, in super-easy meatball form...why hadn't I thought of this before? No fussing around with casings or extruding devices, just quick, simple and delicious. The recipe also made quite a lot of them. These are no demure soup-style meatballs, they're great, bloody golfballs, and densely meaty without any fillers. No problem, though - some were cooked up for dinner, some were frozen (raw) for a super-easy dinner at a later date, and some were flattened into thin patties for a home-version of that ever-so-famous english muffin based breakfast sandwich (more on that later).
At the end of the day, I'm glad that I scaled back on the heat of the carrot dish, because the merguez were not as spicy as I had anticipated. Neither were they quite as fiery-red as a merguez generally should be (in my mind, anyway). Simple enough to fix - next time I'll increase the harissa and the paprika, and both little quirks will be easily fixed.
I do wonder, though - plenty of the recipes in the book call for habanero peppers, without all the usual ensuing hand-wringing about how dangerous they are to work with. It made me think that the recipes wouldn't be dimmed-down for western palates, but now I'm not so sure. Certainly, the spicing seemed light when I examined the recipe, but I decided to go with the precise instructions. Merguez isn't usually the hottest sausage around, but I would like it to be a little bit peppier than our first go at this recipe. Next time...