Venison Merguez with Warm Radish and Apple Salad, Cocoa Nibs, and Quince Caramel

Adapted by
July 2013
Yield: 8 to 10 Appetizer Servings


Venison Sausage
2 ½ pounds venison shoulder (or leg), diced
¾ pound pork back fat, diced
3 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
¾ teaspoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon garlic, microplaned
1 tablespoon pimento picante
1 ½ teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon fennel
2 ½ tablespoons Red wine, ice cold
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, ice cold
2 tablespoons ice water
Hog or sheep casing
Quince Caramel
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cold water
2 pineapple quince, peeled, cored, and sliced very thin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Cider Vinaigrette
¼ cup cider vinegar, good quality brand
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons pistachio oil
Apple-Cocoa Nib Salad
½ Fuji, Gala, or Pink Lady apple
16 small radishes, shaved
1 cup frisée, white part only, rinsed and spun dry
1/8 cup shallot, diced fine
1/8 cup cocoa nibs, toasted and cooled
cider vinaigrette to coat
kosher salt
black pepper


For the Venison Sausage:

Place the diced venison and pork fat back on a tray lined with parchment and freeze until extremely cold or semi-frozen. Meanwhile, chill the grinder attachment, blade, and a mixing bowl. In a small bowl, mix together Kosher salt, sugar, garlic, pimento picante, cumin, ancho chile, and fennel. In a separate small bowl, combine red wine, vinegar and water, and reserve until very cold. Once cold or semi-frozen, grind the venison and pork fat back into your pre-chilled mixing bowl. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the spices and meat on slow speed. When spices are incorporated, turn mixer to speed 3 and slowly pour in the red wine mixture. Keep mixing for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until tacky. Pinch off a small amount of the sausage mixture and cook to test, tasting for seasoning. Keep cold until ready to pipe.

Once ready to pipe, load the venison sausage mixture into the chamber of the stuffer; pushing down to remove as many air pockets as possible. Wet the nozzle of the stuffer and slide the casings onto the end. Tie the end of the casing and hold with one hand as you turn the machine on and the meat feeds into the casing. (The casing will automatically come away from the feeder tube; hold the sausage to guide the process.) Tie the sausages off in 3-ounce lengths (approximately 5-inches) by gently pinching the meat and twisting the casing to form logs. Using a sharp knife, cut through the middle of the twisted casing and chill the sausage until ready to cook.

For the Quince Caramel:

In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water and heat until a hard caramel forms. When very hot and bubbling (about 5 to 7 minutes) carefully add the quince and cook until very soft and falling apart. Transfer to a blender and purée until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For the Cider Vinaigrette:

Place vinegar and mustard in a small bowl and slowly whisk in the olive and pistachio oils. Keep the vinaigrette warm.

For the Apple-Cocoa Nib Salad:

Using the large teeth blade of a Japanese mandolin, shave apple into a bowl. Remove the teeth from the mandolin. Toss the apple with the radishes, frisée, shallot, and cocoa nibs. Season to taste. Toss with the Apple-Cocoa Nib Salad with the Cider Vinaigrette and reserve warm.

To Assemble and Serve:

Gently poach the Venison Sausage until its internal temperature reaches 135°F. Finish by marking on a grill, or roasting in a sauté pan, to color the outside casing. Let rest 2 to 3 minutes before slicing. Slice the Venison Sausage and arrange on a plate. Using a spoon, swirl in quick and steady fashion 1 tablespoon of the Quince Caramel around the edge of the plate. Finish with the dressed Apple-Cocoa Nib Salad, leaning it against the sausage.