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.