Benjamin Artaiz's Matt's in the Market Signature: Merguez with Salsa Romesco and Fennel Watercress Salad

Benjamin Artaiz
Yesterday, Matt's in the Market cook Benjamin Artaiz recounted childhood memories filled comfort foods and Spanish spices while looking to a future in Spain. His signature dish at Matt's features Merguez sausages, spicy lamb sausages rich with piquillo peppers and paprika, part of the sausage program he is spearheading at the restaurant. "These are the familiar flavors of my childhood. I think that's always what it comes back to. Here you have a dish that I'm making where it's not something I had growing up but it reminds me of everything I had growing up," said Artaiz. He made the original batch from collected lamb trim from lamb racks served at the restaurant and the result was a hit. Order it off the menu at Matt's or attempt a version of it at home.

Roasted Merguez Sausage with Salsa Romesco and Fennel-Watercress Salad

Yield: 12 - 8oz sausages


4 pounds ground lamb shoulder

1 pound ground pork back fat

2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons Spanish paprika

1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1½ cups diced roasted piquillo peppers

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano

1/3 cup Spanish red wine

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a mixer and mix with the paddle attachment on medium speed (or sturdy spoon) until the liquid is incorporated and the mixture has developed a uniform, sticky appearance (about 2 minutes). Cook a small portion and taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Stuff the sausage into hog casings and twist into 6-inch links, or form into patties. Gently roast at 250° for 20-25 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165°.


¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 white onion

4 cloves garlic

1/3 cup blanched, roasted marcona almonds

1 cup roasted piquillo peppers

1 tablespoons sherry vinegar

2 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon Spanish paprika

½ tablespoon salt

Peel and quarter the onion, and peel the garlic cloves. Drizzle with olive oil and roast in a 350° oven until soft, about 25 minutes. Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Fennel-Watercress Salad

1 bulb fennel

2 bunches watercress

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

pinch of salt

Thinly slice the fennel against the grain, discarding the core. Gently toss with the watercress. Drizzle with the lemon juice and olive oil and add salt.

To Serve

Spread two tablespoons of Salsa Romesco on a plate. Slice the Merguez sausages in thirds and place on the salsa. Dress with the Fennel-Watercress salad.

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