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. - MrsWheelbarrow —MrsWheelbarrow
Test Kitchen Notes
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&M —The Editors
1 lb. of bulk merguez sausage, or a coil to feed four
Spice Mixture - will make plenty
coriander seed, dry toasted
cumin seed, dry toasted
anise seed, or fennel seed, in a pinch, dry toasted
cinnamon, I like Ceylon
cayenne, depending on your harissa
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.
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.
Form a little patty and cook it off, taste and adjust the seasoning as you see fit.
Cover and chill this mixture overnight if you can. This will help the flavors develop. If overnight is impossible, chill at least an hour.
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.
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.