Merguez: three painful hours

The last time I endured 3 hours of French-related agony was in grad school when, in an attempt to convince my girlfriend I was all that, I sat through Germinal.  It was the longest, darkest movie I never understood.

Lucky enough to still have that woman in my life, I tried to make something she and I would enjoy to relive a past adventure to Paris.  I tried my hand at merguez.  A spicy, really red, greasy link sausage most perfectly served with couscous.  Despite SaucissonMAC's expertise and directed readings, I was overwhelmed  trying to find a recipe.  Having had it in Paris once long ago, I believed I could recall enough to alter a recipe that would reproduce what we ate so long ago.  I'm recording this less than successful episode because I'd like to try again.

Here's some details:

  • Lamb, 2000 g, from a 9 lb halal shoulder from Mediterranean Food Imports, cut by the butcher into pieces, ground twice using a small die (yield about 3 kg, kept some for later)
  • Pork fat, 250 g, (so much for the halal thing)
  • Salt, 30 g (only 6 g/lb, but I was relying on getting some additional  salt from the harissa)
  • Garlic, 25 g finely minced
  • Paprika, Spanish sweet, 2T
  • Paprika, spicy, 2T
  • Cumin, 2T ground
  • Coriander, 2T ground
  • Cinnamon, 1t
  • harissa, 60 g, a commercial preparation from the same market (this is where SaucissonMAC may yell at me), this was the brand I used.
  • water, 60 g

See a few pics below of the process.  Should've been more images, but my hands were busy trying to muffle the f-bomb attack.

After mixing until slightly sticky, I fried a sample patty.  With $45 dollars of lamb on the line, I feared too much salt or too much hot (harissa) and I fell content too quickly.  The salt was perfect but (in hindsight) it lacked heat and it wasn't red enough.  I really, really wanted the blazing red color.  I now realize the signature of this sausage is harissa and I should've made my own, but the stuff I bought tasted good and  was smokin' hot; I think I was simply too light on it.

To this point, the prep was a delightful walk through the kitchen.  Then came stuffing into the sheep casings and I was immediately transported to the mines with Depardieu choking with black lung.  The casings were tough to thread on the stuffing funnel, they tore, etc.  I forged ahead for a few hours. I manged about 3 lbs of links and saved the rest as bulk.

While not a total flop, it's a darn good lamb sausage, but definitely room for improvement.


Jon in Albany said...

The last time I used sheep casings, it really sucked. I probably spent as much time fighting the casings as I did making the sausage. Freakin' sheep casings....

Jon in Albany said...

And I forgot...I've never seen the movie, but I had to read the damn book for a college course. The only thing worse than having read the book is knowing that I paid someone to make me read the book.

Cary ~ My Wool Mitten at Serenity Farms said...

Oh, I have lamb! In fact a whole pasture full of them and meat in the freezer as well ;) I have now got to try this recipe (minus the casings)

Found your blog via your focaccia bread video - which I adore. Thank you for sharing your creativity (obsessiveness?) with the world!!! It is inspiring...

Dave said...

Thanks for your comment Cary, this blog content's for people like you.

I'm jealous of your supply of lamb! Have fun with it, it's a great sausage.