Homemade Merguez Sausage

Homemade Merguez Sausage on a board with grilled veggies

Fiery Fourth Of July
This Fourth of July weekend is a hot one, people. So hot, in fact, that the tradition of being outdoors and grilling might be in question. True, you could escape to the coast or up to the mountains but even then, you might want to limit the time you spend outside. This means having to watch over a larger piece of meat on the grill might not be ideal. I offer you a solution: sausages.

Sausages are the perfect pivot. They fulfill the traditional requirement. (Hot dogs ARE sausages after all.) Sausages are extremely portable and don’t really require any extra seasonings. Sausages can be eaten in a bun or not depending on preference. Sausages take almost no time to cook but the best reason to throw some sausages on the grill this 4th of July would be the amazing variety available.

4th of July purists would tell you to go with tried-and-true classics like beef franks, brats, or bockwurst. And, don’t forget about a lovely smoked kielbasa. I think you could never go wrong with a Polish sausage, a nice and spicy hot link, or some andouille for Cajun flare. Then there are your fancier flavors like spinach and artichoke or chicken and basil. Variety is the spice of life. Go crazy…

For those who really want to shake things up, I offer you this suggestion, Homemade Merguez Sausage. Merguez is a North African staple made of ground lamb and a mix of fragrant North African spices. Merguez is the sausage of choice when grilling in France, so it is definitely not your typical 4th of July offering but the flavor is worth going rogue—especially with a dollop of fresh harissa for some fireworks.

Merguez sausage can be found at our store. But, it is so easy to make that it is worth the minimal time to make your own.

Our recipe for Kitty’s Roasted Pepper, Tomato, and Salted Lemon Relish would work as a side for these as well.

Homemade Merguez Sausage Recipe
Adapted from NY Times Cooking
Yields about 1 pound of sausage

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 pound ground lamb
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped, plus more for serving
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
Olive oil, for cooking
Harissa, see the recipe below or use store-bought

Toast the spices
In a small skillet over medium-low heat, toast cumin, coriander and fennel seeds until fragrant (about 1 to 2 minutes). Transfer the warm spices to a spice grinder and grind well (or use a mortar and pestle and pound seeds into a powder).

Mix the sausage meat
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Form lamb mixture into 1-inch-thick by 5-inch-long cigars or patties.

At this point, you can cover and chill the sausages for up to 5 days, freeze them for up to 3 months, or use them immediately.

Grill the sausages
Brush the sausages with oil and grill or broil them until browned and cooked through.

To Serve
Serve sprinkled with more cilantro and harissa on the side.

Harissa Recipe
Recipe adapted from Mediterranean Cooking by Paula Wolfort

3 ounces dried mild and hot chiles, preferably a mixture of anchos, New Mexican, and guajillos (or all ancho chiles).
1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed with 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1 teaspoon ground caraway seed
1 roasted red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, chopped, wrapped in cheesecloth, and pressed until dry
1 teaspoon sea salt
olive oil

Prep the garlic
Peel and crush the garlic clove with 1/4 teaspoon of salt

Roast the red bell pepper
Stem and seed the bell pepper and roast it. Wrap it in cheesecloth and press it until it is dry.

Prep the chiles
Stem, seed, and break up the chiles. Place them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Cover and allow to stand (about 30 minutes). Drain the chiles, wrap them in cheesecloth, and press out excess moisture.

Mix the harissa
Grind chiles in a food processor with the garlic, spices, red bell pepper, and salt. Add enough oil to make a thick paste. Pack the mixture into a small dry jar. Cover the harissa with a thin layer of oil. Close with a lid and keep refrigerated. Will keep 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator under a thin layer of oil.

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