May Charcutepalooza Challenge: Grinding. Merguez

For me May turned into merguez month. This month’s Charcutepalooza challenge was grinding and I decided to go for the advanced challenge; making merguez. If you’re not familiar with merguez, it’s a spicy, North African lamb sausage and one of my favorites. The challenge was supposed to be more about grinding your own meat, than making link sausage, however once you get started…

The locavore used a recipe from Mrs. Wheelbarrow (the brains behind Charcutepalooza) on Food52, combined with ideas from Charcuterie. Grinding the lamb and mixing it with spices and harissa was easy. Whenever you make sausage and/or pate (forcemeat) two rules are critical: everything must be kept very cold, and you always want to make a small patty, fry it up, and check it for seasonings. Mine needed salt and a little more heat, so I added some hot smoked paprika to the original recipe.Accidental Locavore Merguez

The Accidental Locavore took a huge amount of time dealing with the sausage casings. I was using sheep’s casings as they are smaller than pig’s and merguez is a thinner sausage than say, Italian sausage.  Mistake! Imagine trying to work something similar to slimy overcooked angel hair pasta and you start to get the idea. I’ve made sausage before, but it’s been a while and never with these tiny casings. Once I managed to get the sausages stuffed they did in fact, look like merguez. By this time, it was late, I was tired and still hadn’t eaten dinner. Necessity is definitely the mother of invention…

I took the leftover sausage meat, made patties and fried them up. Halfway through, inspiration! There was some beautiful lettuce in the fridge and a log of a somewhat local (Vermont) chèvre. A new classic was born: merguez sliders with goat cheese on a bed of greens. I topped the merguez patties with a slice of chèvre and stuck them under the broiler to melt and brown the cheese. While that was working, a quick vinaigrette: equal parts good red wine vinegar and good olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and about a tablespoon of Dijon mustard. Beat with a fork until well combined (the mustard acts as an emulsifier and holds it all together). You can add a small minced shallot and/or some herbs de Provence if you like, or be lazy like me and keep it simple.

What a great combination! Next time the Accidental Locavore will grill the merguez patties, excuse me, sliders, add a few toasted pine nuts sprinkled on top and perfection!


5 thoughts on “May Charcutepalooza Challenge: Grinding. Merguez”

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  4. Thanks! I’ve made sausages before, but it’s been a while. I’ve never used lamb casings only hog and trust me hog are so much easier! I used a beautiful piece of lamb shoulder that had a nice amount of fat on it, and the casings I found on Amazon. The harissa (which is also important) was DEA from a tube, I got from Kalustian’s in NYC. I’ll put a link to them on the blog.

  5. these look fantastic! i’ve been wanting to try merguez–but love that you went the extra mile and made the links too–i am impressed! had you done this before–where did you get the casings? and what cut of lamb did you use? i am a local eater as well, so thanks for the great foraging the farmer’s markets posts!

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