Lamb Merguez

By • March 13, 2010 • 99 Comments



Author Notes: I took a charcuterie class a few months back, and have been obsessed with making sausages ever since. I've pored over Ruhlman's Charcuterie, Fergus Henderson's Nose to Tail Eating, and a zillion blogs to feed my obsession. Of all the sausages I've made, the merguez is the one I reach for first. It's quick to cook and pairs with so many side dishes. The secret to great merguez is in the harissa. There are many recipes on the web, and many varieties on the shelf. I'm partial to the harissa at Whole Foods - full of hot chilis and not too tomato-y, but that's my taste. Only use the very freshest ground lamb. Grind your own if you can. I use a KA meat grinding attachment and sausage stuffer. Some report good results with the food processor. - MrsWheelbarrowMrsWheelbarrow

Food52 Review: Leave it to MrsWheelbarrow, one of the masterminds behind Charcutepalooza, to remind us how simple making your own sausage can be -- you don't even need to fuss with casings. And this one is so good: perfectly spiced and perfumed with MrsW's custom spice blend (we halved it and had plenty) and ready to join poached eggs and toast or get stuffed in a pita with tzatziki and fresh veggies. Since harissa brands can vary, we recommend starting with the minimum amount of cayenne and salt and searing off a patty to taste test (lucky you!). - A&MA&M

Serves 1 lb. of bulk merguez sausage, or a coil to feed four

Spice Mixture - will make plenty

  • 1 tablespoon coriander seed, dry toasted
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seed, dry toasted
  • 1 tablespoon anise seed, or fennel seed, in a pinch, dry toasted
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon, I like Ceylon
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon cayenne, depending on your harissa
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric

Sausage

  • 1 pound fresh ground lamb shoulder
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced fine
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon spice mix
  • 2 tablespoons harissa
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon Salt, to taste
  • iced water, as needed
  1. Combine the spice mix ingredients and grind fine using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle. The extra can be stored in a glass jar.
  2. Using a mixer, combine all the sausage ingredients. Add the ice water, a tablespoon at a time until the mixture is well combined. If you have ground the meat yourself, you probably won't need much ice water.
  3. Form a little patty and cook it off, taste and adjust the seasoning as you see fit.
  4. Cover and chill this mixture overnight if you can. This will help the flavors develop. If overnight is impossible, chill at least an hour.
  5. Dip your hands in ice water as you form the sausage patties. Chill the patties again if you are not going to cook them right away. Grill the merguez coils for 10-12 minutes, total, turning once.
  6. I make large coils to serve four. They make a spectacular dinner party offering with lentils du puy, crusty bread, and a green salad with figs and marcona almonds.
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Tags: sausage, spicy

Comments (99) Questions (5)

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7 months ago Megha

This recipe is awesome! It is so simple and always a hit with everyone at the table. It is part of my regular rotation now, my favorite way to eat it is on top of a huge greek salad :D

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10 months ago Ceege

What is "spice mix". Is it the same as "all spice"?

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10 months ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

the spice mixture is at the top of the recipe

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11 months ago AnnaBell

I screwed these up and they were still delicious. I spaced out and put in all the spice mixture instead of just one tablespoon. I also used some homemade, extra spicy harissa, so they were REALLY zippy. I served them with greek yogurt to tame the heat, and they were good enough that I went back for seconds. These will definitely go in the regular rotation.

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about 1 year ago ibbeachnana

Just after I ground the lamb I found that I didn't have enough coriander or cumin seeds, but I have new tins of ground cumin and coriander, can anyone recommend an amount of each ground spice for the spice blend?

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about 1 year ago ibbeachnana

Making this again tomorrow!

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about 1 year ago Mr Fitz

this reads real delicious.. perhaps into sheeps casings also?

Smokin_tokyo

over 1 year ago BoulderGalinTokyo

Looking forward to trying these. Does the fat content in the ground lamb matter in the outcome?

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over 1 year ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

I use lamb shoulder, which is about twenty percent fat.

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over 1 year ago Melissaiscooking

This was just fantastic! Just the right amount of spice. I was able to get all the spices in the bulk section at Whole Foods for quite a bargain. My husband, my son, and I all loved it. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe.

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over 1 year ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Thrilled you liked it, Melissa! Thank you for letting me know.

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over 1 year ago Franca

We had this on Saturday and with a minor modification to the spice mix, this was delicious. I have an intense dislike to cumin therefore, I replaced it with ral el hanout & paprika.

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over 1 year ago Franca

We had this on Saturday day night. With minor modifications this was the best thing on the table. I have an intense dislike for cumin therefore replaced it with ras el hanout & paprika. Magnificent!

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over 1 year ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

I adore ras al hanout - what a great substitution - will have to give it a try

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almost 2 years ago LizzyD77

I just had this for breakfast and it truly is unbelievably good. Friday night I made the Harissa from TasteFood (awesome), let that sit overnight per the directions. Then Saturday made the Merguez from MrsWheelbarrow, let that sit overnight again, per the directions. This morning (Sunday), I put it all together here, and it totally blew our minds! Thank you so very much for this contribution!

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almost 2 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

You're so welcome. I'm so glad you all liked it. Just this morning, at the farmer's market, I saw someone had lamb shoulder for sale - and was reminded that it's time for Merguez.

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about 2 years ago greatm31

I made this a few months ago, and it was AMAZING. I had leftover spice mix, and I wanted to use it for something new, so I made a little lamb+tomato+white bean stew and seasoned it heavily with the mix. DOUBLE AMAZING. The spices go so well with lamb and tomato flavors, it's so aromatic and complex. Thanks for the awesome recipe!

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about 2 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

What a great idea! So glad you enjoyed the recipe.

Burnt_offering

about 3 years ago Burnt Offerings

This is coming up as entered in "Your Best Almond Macaroon" contest. Really???

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about 3 years ago bella s.f.

Yeah, I saw that, too. Meant to say something, but got sidetracked.

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about 3 years ago bella s.f.

This was really wonderful! I am so looking forward to having the Merguez again tonight. You really do need to let it sit for a day to let the flavors infuse. We made a sample patty the day that we ground the lamb and mixed everything together. I thought that I would need to up the seasoning when we were going to cook the sausage for dinner. The next day we cooked another sample, and we found that we did not need to add anything else. On recommendations here, I did go to Whole Foods to buy the harissa. I did not know have anything to compare it to, because I never had harissa to try on its own. They had 2 different brands at the Whole Foods that I went to. I bought Shiloh's Harissa. Is that the brand you folks liked?

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about 3 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

In DC, WF has a harissa from CAVA, a local company. I prefer a fresh harissa, as opposed to what is available in a can on in a tube.

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about 3 years ago MyGardenersTable

Glad you like the idea of sundried tomatoes. Please let me know how it comes out. - I'm curious - have you used the spice mix for other dishes?

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about 3 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

No, I haven't. But that's another great idea! :)

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about 3 years ago MyGardenersTable

For years and years, I have been craving merguez like the ones my Tunisian grandmother made. But I never made them. The merguez recipe in Ommok Sannafa (the Tunisian equivalent of The Joy of Cooking) uses only garlic, fennel seeds, harissa and paprika and just didn’t convince me. But this recipe is a different story! Realizing that I had run out of tomato paste, I improvised with 2 tablespoons sundried tomatoes packed in oil from my own garden, which I chopped finely and ground with the other ingredients in the food processor. Unlike me, who grew up with spicy foods, my eaters here don’t like it too spicy, so I went easy on the cayenne, just a pinch. Also, I only had the very basic harissa, the type sold in small tin cans, of which I used 2 teaspoons. It did not matter, the test patty was fabulous. Boy, do I look forward to dinner tonight. Thank you MrsWheelbarrow!

Junechamp

about 3 years ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I've saved this recipe. How awesome to know this is the "real deal" before purchasing all the ingredients and going to the trouble of making it. We love Merguez, and I'll be trying this soon.

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about 3 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

I love your swap of sundried tomatoes and just might do the same thing here!

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about 3 years ago clbeth

Took me a couple days to get all the ingredients but it was sooo worth it. This recipe is off the hook! I had a hard time stopping myself from eating it all after I made the first sample patty, okay I did make a second one. But I saved the rest to make the Moroccan Merguez Ragout with Poached Eggs and had one of the best breakfasts of my life. Thank you MrsWheelbarrow for introducing me to merguez!

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about 3 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

You're so welcome! Those eggs are so amazing!! Agreed! Glad you are a convert to merguez!

Ozoz_profile

about 3 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

Just made this - swapped muhammara (a red pepper dip - see http://www.food52.com/recipes...) for the harissa, added 3 tablespoons of finely chopped coriander leaves, and a touch more aleppo pepper than the recipe called for and omitted the tomato paste. The 'test patty' was STUNNING - tender and tasty.

Thank you for helping me out of the 'sausages-are-difficult-to-make' boat. Though I feel as though I need to go further and learn to case!

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about 3 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

So glad you got over your fears and gave the Merguez a whirl. What did you serve the sausages with? Next up casing, right? Check out my May 15 Charcutepalooza post for tips and tricks. I'm delighted you enjoyed the recipe mostly because I so enjoy all of yours!

Ozoz_profile

about 3 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

With soft white bread.....especially for my husband/father's day brekkie. I plan on serving a batch of the other parties this weekend with a yogurt coriander chutney and some flatbread,,

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about 3 years ago annemax

Will you share your recipe for the yogurt coriander chutney? Sounds delicious!

Ozoz_profile

about 3 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

Thanks Annemax, the coriander chutney is already on food52, see http://www.food52.com/recipes...; BTW the herb paste is great rubbed into mangoes, sweetcorn etc (sans yogurt). See http://www.food52.com/recipes...

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about 3 years ago annemax

Thanks it looks great! Am going to try it for grilled lamb.

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about 3 years ago creamtea

I made this for a luncheon yesterday and it was a big hit. Seasoned with Aleppo pepper instead of cayennne. Cooked it up as small patties to serve layered over a baby lettuce salad with grainy mustard vinaigrette and a room-temp lentil salad. One guest couldn't stop eating them! Fortunately there are 2 left over for a midnight nibble--don't tell.

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about 3 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

So glad you liked them!

Burnt_offering

about 3 years ago Burnt Offerings

So glad to get a chance to try these at the potluck today - they are better than advertised!! Can't wait to make them for the meeting I'm catering. Thanks for bringing them, and it was delightful to meet you and the rest of the Food52 DC gang. What a great group of people!

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about 3 years ago annemax

This was a great recipe. The merguez came out great, I made them into links and then used the rest to make sliders with chevre: http://www.accidental-locavore...

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about 3 years ago stinkycheese

I just made this with lamb and harissa from my local halal butcher. He ground the lamb shoulder for me while I waited. It was a big hit. Thanks Mrs. W!

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about 3 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

I'm thrilled! Thank you so much.

Eda_takoyaki_cooking

over 3 years ago edamame2003

I saw this and thought it was a Charcutepalooza challenge. But even more excited to see that it's a food52 winner! i can't wait to try this.

Monkeys

over 3 years ago monkeymom

So glad to see this great recipe picked! I have to say I've been greatly disappointed when I've tasted other merguez. This one has spoiled me forever! Congrats!

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over 3 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Thank you monkeymom!

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over 3 years ago Linda's Kitchen

Congratulations! I've been waiting for the Charcutepalooza sausage month because lamb merguez will be the first sausage I make. I love it! And our lamb meat comes from a friend! Sausage, I have to confess, is my "junk" food...it must have been that year in Germany.

Prairie Chef - ground elk is very dry. I always add fat to it, or ground pork with its fat.

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over 3 years ago smgrooms

Congratulations, this recipe makes my mouth water!

While I am new to "Charcuterie" techniques, I am learning as I am going. I learned to make sausage from my Spanish grandmother, recipes which I hold dear to this day. I am thrilled to find this site and your Merquez recipe which I will try!

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over 3 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

I hope you'll share some of those sausage recipes!

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over 3 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Won't you please share those Spanish sausage recipes?

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over 3 years ago PrairieChef

Could ground elk be substituted for the lamb? Would additional fat need to be added?

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over 3 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

I just picked up some venison (fallow) which is very low in fat, and I will be making this next week... so I don't have answers yet, but I will check back after my experimentation! Lamb shoulder is quite lean, and that's what I like so much about this sausage recipe - it's very meaty, not fatty.

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over 3 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

I made the venison merguez recently and will add pork fat to the recipe the next time - ratio would be 3# venison to 1# pork back fat. WIthout the fat, it was delicious, but slightly dry, and wouldn't hold together. Please let us know how the elk turned out?

Stringio

over 3 years ago testkitchenette

Well deserved! I can't wait to try this as I LOVE lamb...

Ozoz_profile

over 3 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

Congratulations - will have to give this a go!

Ashtaco

over 3 years ago wanderash

Nice wildcard win Cathy! I will definitely make this. I looooooooove lamb!

Winnie100

over 3 years ago WinnieAb

Woohoo! Congrats Cathy!!!

Me

over 3 years ago wssmom

How cool!! So straightforward, and it sounds yummy-licious!

Newliztoqueicon-2

over 3 years ago Lizthechef

Congratulations, MrsWheelbarrow ;)

Kay_at_lake

over 3 years ago Kayb

sounds wonderful! Saved, and can't wait to try it! Congrats!

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over 3 years ago cheese1227

I've eaten this and it is FABulous!!! Congrats, Cathy.

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over 3 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Verklempt. Totally verklempt. Thank you A&M and all of you for the nice words. I'm so looking forward to hearing how you like making merguez. It was my gateway sausage... the first I made on my own after taking a class, and a staple, now. Having some merguez in the freezer is my secret weapon for quick lunches or fast appetizers.

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over 3 years ago gingerroot

This sounds amazing! Congrats on a terrific wildcard win.

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over 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Oh WOW! I am so excited about this! Definitely making this to go with eggs. Congrats on the wildcard.

Junechamp

over 3 years ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

WOW! I am DEFinitely going to make this. My FPTCF loves lamb, and I've been dying to make sausage.

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over 3 years ago dymnyno

Congrats!!! You are definitely an inspiration to many...including me!

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over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Congrats! One of my friends just started into the adventures of sausage making, so I've sent him a link to your recipe. With any luck he'll make some and invite me to dinner.

Burnt_offering

over 3 years ago Burnt Offerings

Congrats!! I may not be quite ready to make my own sausage, but I bet this would be great fried up with a can of fire roasted tomatoes, some eggplant and poured over pasta or couscous.

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over 3 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

I like the way you think.

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over 3 years ago Rivka

Woohoo! Congrats on the wildcard win!

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over 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congrats, Mrs. W!

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over 3 years ago Sagegreen

Congrats!

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over 3 years ago Midge

Hurray MrsW! I'm going to dig out my KA attachment for this one!

Lnd_jen

over 3 years ago lastnightsdinner

YAAAAAAAYYYY!!!!

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

I made sausage! Didn't do the casings. I loved these, they were so tasty. I did make an addition of pine nuts following SueVT's recipe from her blog as well. I think I'll have to try turkey/chicken next time as lamb is more challenging to my husband. Thanks for the inspiration to try something very new.

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over 4 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

WooHoo!! I'm so delighted I've turned you into a sausage-maker. I'm adding pine nuts the next time, too.

Newliztoqueicon-2

over 4 years ago Lizthechef

OK, this will be my first try at sausage - a big step in my cooking...Everyone seems to add some great tips to your wonderful recipe.

Winnie100

over 4 years ago WinnieAb

You're proficient in charcuterie too? Is there anything you can't do?

I love all these spices and very much want to give this a try, but I am actually not a lamb fan...could I make this with another meat? Or is it always made with lamb?

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over 4 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Haha Winnie! Well, I can't play tennis. At all. As for charcuterie, I took a wonderful class last fall and have been obsessed ever since. Merguez is traditionally made with lamb. More specifically, it's made without added fat, so it's the leanest sausage I know. I did try making it with goat and thought it was great. Not sure about other meats.

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over 4 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Clearly this is not a recipe for macarons. Could someone over there at Food52 please help me get this into the lamb contest recipes? So sorry.

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

I'm so intrigued now. I'm a newbie to this...if you make coils I assume you need casings? Where do you get them?

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over 4 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

To make coils, yes, you need casings. I get my casings from the same farm where I buy the meat, but I've also sourced them at Whole Foods by ordering ahead. In my charcuterie class, we were encouraged to use lamb casings (smaller, more traditional) but I'm only able to get hog casings. (Seems weird, as the farm raises & butchers lamb, too, but... whatever... )

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

I think I'll give it a go patty style first. Looking forward to the spice!

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over 4 years ago SueVT

Very nice!
I like to use this in choucroute garni, as it adds spice and interest. Also wonderful used with ricotta..
Also, rather than harissa, I use smoked paprika and spice... rather than anise, I use fennel and sambuca..
http://knowwhey.blogspot...

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over 4 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Nice! Do you add the sambuca where I add ice water?

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over 4 years ago SueVT

The Sambuca is to add anise-like flavor in a way that I think is a little more subtle. It's not to extend the mixture or keep it cold, if that's what you mean?
The usual problem with Merguez is that they can be dry... which is why I put in pine nuts, etc.
cheers,
Sue

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over 4 years ago spinthebottleny

So excited to try this! Love the touch of ginger in the meat.

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over 4 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Thanks, Sasha - and thank you for the encouragement to post the recipe!

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over 4 years ago thirschfeld

Really liking the photo. I like Ruhlman, a lot, but truth be told a fair of the stuff they do comes from an old copy of CIA's garde manger text book. Never the less doing charcuterie at home is such a great thing and a lot of it is really simple to do at home and so much better than anything you can buy outside big cities and, even sometimes better. Kudos to MrsWheelbarrow

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over 4 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Thanks go out to two friends (you know who you are) for help with photo cropping.

Me

over 4 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

We used to made sausages when I was in school, but not since then. I need to correct this post-haste with this recipe. It looks great!!!!

Me

over 4 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

I should add that I'm a fan of the harissa at my Whole Foods too. I've tried several and it's got the balance I like. I use it as a marinade for lamb shoulder before preparing it, so I know this recipe is one I would LOVE.

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over 4 years ago thirschfeld

That is looking good!!!!! We make all kinds of homemade sausages but I have not made merguez yet.

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over 4 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

What kind do you make? Recipes, please?

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over 4 years ago thirschfeld

Kielbasa, thuringer, venison, venison summer sausage, pheasant, blood, boudin, and these great breakfast rooster sausages. We do a lot of butchering and we like our sausage, bacon and anything cured.

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over 4 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

I've been curing bacon recently and I'm delighted with the results. I'd like to start doing some smoked sausage this summer. Up to now, I've made breakfast links, hot Italian sausage and boudin blanc, none smoked. Please post a kielbasa recipe!

Lnd_jen

over 4 years ago lastnightsdinner

Maybe we should suggest a "your best charcuterie" theme? :D

Me

over 4 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Great idea LND. I order 5 lb increments of pork belly with the skin on (which is all I can get into my frig for the curing), cure it and smoke it for our bacon. Do this once, and you'll never turn back from doing your own. I'd love to see other cured meats our F52 community does.

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over 4 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Oh, what fun. I would love to see a charcuterie theme!

Lnd_jen

over 4 years ago lastnightsdinner

You've answered my prayers :) Merguez is actually the first sausage I hope to tackle when I start making my own in the coming months. This sounds fabulous.

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over 4 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

So glad! It's a great "first sausage." In the meantime, starting checking out harissas.