I am unclear as to when a stew ceases to be a stew and becomes a tagine. I'm calling this a stew, despite the obviously Moroccan influences, because I don't feel qualified to call it otherwise. You can call it a tagine though, if it pleases you.
In any case, this is a mash up of a couple of online recipes adapted for the slow cooker so it lost touch with any claim to authenticity a while ago. That aside, it is utterly delicious. Merguez sausages are officially one of my new Favourite Things. Homemade Merguez sausages are amazing. I've probably posted this picture before but I'm so impressed by D's hitherto undiscovered sausage making skills (plus I don't have a picture of the stew. Stew is like curry - it always looks rubbish in pictures):
This recipe was a fitting way to use up these beauties, and I can give it no greater compliment than that.
6-8 Merguez sausages
Large red onion, thinly sliced
250ml chicken stock
Small tin (200g) tomatoes
Heaped tsp each of cumin seeds, coriander seeds, dried chilli flakes, smoked paprika, ground together in a pestle and mortar
Butternut squash, peeled and cubed
Tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
100g dried apricots, roughly chopped
Half a preserved lemon, chopped
To serve: fresh coriander, finely shredded
Serves 4, generously
First: heat a little oil and brown the sausages on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool slightly before cutting into chunks and transferring to the slow cooker.
Add a little more oil and then place the onion into the pan cooking for around five minutes until beginning to soften. Splash in a little stock to deglaze the pan then add the spice mix and stir well. When nearly all the stock has bubbled away, pour in the tomatoes and the honey, then turn down the heat and allow to reduce slightly while you get on with prepping the other ingredients.
Throw the squash, chickpeas, apricots and lemon into the slow cooker alongside the sausage.
Taste the sauce and season well. Pour over the other ingredients in the slow cooker and stir thoroughly. If the mixture looks a little dry, add a bit more of the stock. Set the slow cooker to low and allow to burble away for 6-8 hours. Before serving (with steamed rice or couscous) stir through the coriander.