The calendar may still indicate that it’s winter, but these beautiful 50, 60 and even 70-degree days have me cooking like its springtime! Lamb is a spring staple in our home, and Cherry Grove Farm has a great offering of cuts and sausage. I don’t know that too many people have ever had merguez sausage, but it’s a kind of lamb sausage flavored with a North African spice blend such as fennel, coriander, cumin and harissa.
Cherry Grove raises Katahdin sheep, a breed of hair sheep developed in the United States on the Piel Farm in north central Maine. “Sometimes mistaken for goats, Katahdin’s are not fleece sheep and so do not require shearing. In cold weather, they grow a very thick winter coat, which sheds in the warm season making them very tolerant of heat and humidity. Hardy, adaptable, and low maintenance, they are ideal for grass/forage-based farming and pasture lambing. Katahdin’s produce high quality, naturally lean meat with a pleasant, mild flavor.”
I have heard a few people say they don’t enjoy lamb, but I think even those people might enjoy lamb sausage. I don’t think it has a gamy taste (but then again, I love lamb) and the spices ensure that you’re getting great flavor. Plus, these sausages are super versatile! Obviously you can top pizza with the ground sausage, but it would also be delicious with pasta, legumes, or served over rice.
Once in a while I like to make my own pizza, and I have found a recipe for crust that requires no kneading and just a few hours of resting. This thin-crust pizza is light and crispy, and I brush on a thin layer of tomato sauce all the way to the edges because I don’t eat the crusts. Yes, I actually use a paintbrush for even distribution (I find it easier than using a spoon!) But of course, this brush is only used for cooking purposes. For the crust I use a recipe given to me by one of my clients from the My Bread Cookbook. But to make it even easier, I encourage you to use store-bought dough if you have a good place for it.
Every ingredient on this pizza was sourced from local New Jersey farm markets, even the tomato sauce was made with NJ tomatoes from Roots to River farm. Typically I make my own tomato sausage, but I saw sauce while I was out and it looked so good! this recipe only calls for 1-2 merguez sausage links, so I have a few left in the freezer to use in more exciting dishes. I’m thinking maybe a seasonal biryani rice dish with the ground lamb mixed in and long-grain brown rice from Blue Moon Acres. Yum.
Recipe notes: The only thing I would change next time when making this pizza is load up with more kale and red onions! It looked like a lot at the time when it was raw, but it always cooks down. And who doesn’t love crispy kale and red onions? Also, Cherry Grove Farm has several different kinds of lamb sausage, so I encourage you to stop by and pick some up so you can experiment with the flavors of this delicious homemade pizza. Once we actually enter spring, I’ll be trying their rosemary garlic lamb sausage with spring onions and ricotta.
Pizza dough for one 12-inch pizza
1-2 links lamb sausage (Merguez style)
½ cup tomato sauce
1 large ball of mozzarella, thinly sliced
¼ cup thinly sliced red onion halves
1 cup red Russian kale
1 tbsp. oil of your choice
- Preheat oven to 425.
- Heat large skillet over medium heat.
- Add sausage, crumbling with the back of your spoon as it cooks. Cook sausage fully, about 5 minutes. If your sausage is difficult to crumble, don’t worry. Cook it fully and then remove to a cutting board to chop up to small pieces.
- Roll out pizza dough and spread tomato sauce evenly over pizza.
- Place mozzarella cheese slices throughout pizza.
- Scatter thinly sliced red onion halves throughout the pizza.
- In a small bowl, coat the kale with ~1 tbsp. oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Scatter kale evenly over pizza.
- Bake pizza for 15-20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving (it’s not worth the risk of burning the roof of your mouth!)