The challenge was grinding meat and then making either Mexican chorizo or Merguez sausage. I just recently came into possession of some lovely lamb from Wilmington, Ohio, so there was no question about the sausage I was going to make. Merguez sausage can be lamb, beef, or a mixture of the two. I happened to have four pounds of lamb shoulder, so my Merguez is pure beautiful and locally-raised lamb.
Since Charcutepalooza uses Ruhlman and Polcyn’s “Charcuterie” as the starting point, the next order of business was to dissect their recipe. It uses roasted red pepper, crushed red pepper, paprika, and garlic, which essentially makes a harissa in-place. Additionally, there is black pepper, oregano, and red wine. I’m sure it would make a nice sausage, but it is a little mild for my taste. I wanted more in the way of Mediterranean character for my Merguez. I substituted a prepared harissa for the roasted red pepper and crushed red pepper. I also added fennel pollen, sumac, coriander seed, and cumin.
I grinded my ingredients using my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer with the grinder attachment and the fine die, and then stuffed my sausage using the same setup with the Kitchen Aid sausage stuffing attachment.
My results? A spicy and lively sausage, one that I think is very worthy of its North African heritage. It’s great poached or gently grilled. It’s wonderful with a salad with feta, assorted olives, and roasted peppers, with a sharp vinaigrette or on a bun with some extra harissa plus french fries on the side. I suspect it even makes an interesting breakfast sausage.
Recipe: Merguez Sausage
Summary: A spicy lamb sausage, perfect for grilling
- 4 lbs lamb shoulder, large dice
- 1 lb fatback, large dice
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 3 oz harissa
- 2 tablespoons garlic
- 1 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoons coriander seed
- 1 tablespoons sumac
- 1/2 teaspoons fennel pollen
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced
- 1/4C red wine
- 1/4C ice water
- 20 feet 3/4″-1″ sheep casings, soaked and rinsed
- Soak casings in tepid water for at least 2 hours. Then rinse and flush inside of casing with cool water for at least 2 minutes. Reserve
- Combine all ingredients except wine and water. Toss to distribute evenly. Refrigerate until ready to grind.
- Using meat grinder, grind through small die into bowl sitting in ice bath.
- Add wine and water to ground ingredients and either mix by hand or with mixer using paddle attachment until all ingredients are absorbed and mixture is sticky.
- Pack into sheep casings.
Meal type: Lunch, Dinner, or Snack
Culinary tradition: North African
Adapted from Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s “Charcuterie”
by Dan Tudor, tartare.org.