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Lamb Merquez Pizza

Menu PartEntree
Cuisine TypeMediterranean
Lamb Merquez Pizza

Chef/owner Cindy Pawlcyn

Mustards Grill

Napa, Calif.

Chef Cindy Pawlcyn changes up the Italian pork sausage that traditionally tops pizza, swapping in a housemade lamb merquez. It’s made by blending ground lamb with a Moroccan-style spice mix that combines cumin, chili powder, anise seeds, sweet paprika and other pantry staples. A quick tomato sauce, olive tapenade and two cheeses complete the scratch-made pizza. Chef Pawlcyn weighs the ingredients for the dough for a more precise baked result.



Pizza dough

5 g. dry active yeast

1¾ cups lukewarm water

625 g. all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

30 ml. extra virgin olive oil

5 g. kosher salt

Lamb merguez sausage

60 g. chili powder

45 g. fine salt

10 g. cayenne

10 g. ground cumin

10 g. anise seeds, ground

6 g. ground black pepper

5 g. sweet paprika

3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 lb. ground lamb

Pizza sauce

1 can (28 oz.) Italian plum tomatoes

1½ tsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. dried marjoram leaves, crumbled

1 tsp. dried oregano leaves, crumbled

Scant 1 tsp. salt

Scant 1 tsp. sugar

¼ tsp. garlic powder


Cornmeal, for dusting

8 tbsp. black olive tapenade

3 oz. pizza sauce (recipe above)

1½ cups lamb merquez (recipe above)

1 red onion, thinly sliced and caramelized in olive oil

3 cups fresh mozzarella cheese, drained

2 cups finely grated pecorino cheese, very lightly packed



1. Prepare dough: In mixing bowl, sprinkle yeast over lukewarm water; allow to dissolve for about 2 minutes. Add flour, oil and salt; mix well with hands about 5 minutes, or until flour is incorporated and dough forms.

2. Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Turn dough onto surface and knead lightly until smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces, about 8 ounces each. Wrap dough pieces individually in plastic wrap; refrigerate several hours or overnight.  (You can skip this step and rise and use dough right away; however, the cool, slow rise provides a better texture and flavor.)

3. Meanwhile, prepare lamb merguez spice blend: In small bowl, mix chili powder, salt, cayenne, cumin, anise, pepper and paprika. Combine with garlic and oil; refrigerate overnight.

4. Combine ground lamb with merguez spice blend; set aside.

5. About 45 minutes before baking, remove dough from refrigerator, unwrap, flour lightly and cover with a towel. Each dough ball with make a 10-inch diameter pizza.

6. For pizza sauce, in medium bowl, combine tomatoes, oil, marjoram, oregano, salt, sugar and garlic powder; stir until mixture is relatively smooth.  (You can do this in a food processor on pulse; do not puree completely.)

7. Preheat a baking stone at 500 F for 20 minutes. Shape an 8-ounce dough ball into a 10-inch pizza round. Dust a pizza peel or back of sheet pan with cornmeal; place shaped dough on top.  Shake peel or pan to loosen dough, making sure it slides easily. If needed, add more cornmeal under the dough.

8. Spread 2 tablespoons tapenade across dough; add 3 ounces pizza sauce. Distribute 1½ cups lamb merguez evenly on top; scatter 3 tablespoons caramelized onions over lamb. Finish with ¾ cup mozzarella and ½ cup Pecorino.

9. Slide pizza onto baking stone; bake 4 to 8 minutes. When pizza is done, slide the peel under to remove; place on cutting board and cut into wedges.

Photo courtesy of The American Lamb Board


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