Spicy Merguez Loaf | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Spicy Merguez Loaf

Spicy Merguez Loaf

Serves 4

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Mike Solomonov, the chef at the acclaimed Philadelphia restaurant Zahav, brings us a loaf with flavors so complex and elements so varied that your guests will presume you spent hours standing over your stove, rocking out to Green Day and stirring. If you choose to make the optional harissa ketchup featured here, rather than purchasing commercial harissa, they will be partially correct.

But in truth, in the time-to-benefit ratio, this dish is the greatest boon to your meatloaf-ing life. You can mix up the loaf in about five minutes, as there is minimal chopping. It then develops its flavors and texture in the fridge while you sleep, go to work, spend the entire day secretly praying that one of your colleagues is transferred to Manila, leave work, curse traffic, stop at the store for some much-needed red wine and race into the house to finish the dish.

You will find the loaf batter drier than others you have made, because it is indeed sausage-like. This loaf’s calling card is its fire—both in the loaf and in the glaze—so it’s for those who like it hot. We give you an alternative to the Aleppo pepper that Mike says is ideal to use, because Aleppo’s availability is limited due to conflicts in Syria, home of, yes, Aleppo. When slicing this loaf, use a bit of extra elbow grease to get through the surprising (and delightful) boiled eggs. The chef recommends a loaf pan here, and we agree, although if you don’t own one it will work well on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.



1 pound ground lamb

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon ground caraway

1 tablespoon ground cardamom

2 tablespoons ground fennel

2 tablespoons Aleppo pepper or hot or smoked paprika (not sweet)

1 tablespoon sugar

4 tablespoons kosher salt

1⁄2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1⁄2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons tahini sauce or paste (different brands label it differently)

1 cup harissa (store-bought or see recipe below)

1 cup torn challah bread

4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, ends trimmed off

12 pitted black olives, cut in half

HARISSA KETCHUP (optional alternative to store-bought harissa)

1 cup Aleppo peppers (or easier-to-find serranos), seeded

6 tablespoons white vinegar

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 cup tomato paste

2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander


1 jar grape leaves, rinsed


1. In a large bowl, combine the lamb with the spices, sugar, salt, parsley, cilantro, garlic and tahini. Mix thoroughly with your clean hands, cover and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours. 

2. If you are making your own harissa ketchup, combine all of its ingredients with 1 cup of water in a small pot and cook over medium- low heat, stirring occasionally, until quite thick, roughly 30 minutes. Once it has thickened, puree it in a food processor or blender until creamy but not watery. 

3. Put half of the homemade harissa ketchup or of the store-bought harissa into a medium-sized bowl and stir in the challah pieces with a spoon. Knead this into the meatloaf mixture and put it all back in the fridge for 10 more minutes. 

4. Now would be a good time to turn on your oven, to 350 degrees F. 

5. If you are using the grape leaves, line a terrine or loaf pan with those 
grape leaves. Otherwise skip this step. 

6. Place half of the meatloaf mixture in the loaf pan, and arrange the hard-boiled eggs lengthwise in a line down the center. Scatter the olives between and around the eggs. Place the rest of the meatloaf mixture over the eggs, pressing it down lightly to cover them. 

7. Slather the top of the loaf with the rest of the harissa. 

8. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 160 
degrees F. 

9. Allow the loaf to rest for 10 minutes in the pan; then remove from the 
pan, slice and serve. 

Reprinted with permission from A Meatloaf in Every Oven. 2017 by Frank Bruni and Jennifer Steinhauer, Grand Central Life and Style.

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