I once had a bad experience with lamb. I don’t remember the particular occasion; I just know I’ve spent all the years since professing a strong dislike for any food involving this animal.

For this month’s charcutepalooza challenge, we were asked to make pork link sausages. Since I’ve been feeling a little “porked out” (sorry Cathy and Kim!), I decided to confront my hatred of lamb and challenge myself to stuff the North African fresh lamb sausage known as merguez instead.

homemade-merguez

Last month’s homemade breakfast sausage patties turned out to be super easy to make. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to have such a smooth experience getting sausage into casings all by myself, though, so I decided to persuade fellow local charcutepaloozer’s Julia and Peter to stuff sausages with me.

Beause making sausage is social. And because charcutepalooza rocks.

We planned the get-together quite spontaneously on twitter (this, my friends, is why I love twitter), so I ran out right away to buy lamb from the grass-fed meat market in my town. I was pretty taken aback by the price ($17/pound), but decided to go for it anyway. I ground up my lamb and mixed in the spices the next morning before heading out to Peter’s; you’ll find the lamb merguez recipe (which it turns out I loved) at the end of this post.

I’ve known Julia for years, since long before we both started blogging. Funny enough, neither of us realized the other had a blog until fairly recently…and then we both ended up joining charcutepalooza…wierd. Julia lives pretty near me. She’s so down to earth and an all-around fantastic person (plus she makes fantastic jams), so I love getting together with her to talk food and food blogging. With the hilariously funny Peter thrown into the mix, we had an absolute blast.

Peter is an incredible artist who also happens to be a terrific cook and food writer. I really can’t do justice to this guy’s awesomeness in words, but trust me…he’s awesome. He was our gracious host and teacher, and here are some photos of the day…

Peter fed us well: this is his homemade camembert:

More snacks: Peter’s homemade charcuterie:

Peter “dealing with” the casings:

casings-for-sausage

Peter and Julia making the first batch of sausage:

how-to-stuff-sausages

Notice the sausages and ham hanging from the ceiling…told you Peter was awesome:

Peter-Barnett-stuffing-sausage

Julia contemplating her sausage:

making-homemade-sausage

More sausage contemplation:

Peter makes ceramics…here are some of his beautiful dishes:

Peter twisting his chorizo into links:

sausage=links-homemade

Some of our days’ work:

homemade-sausage-links

Sorry there aren’t any photos of me stuffing my links, but here they are all done:

homemade-merguez-links

I served my merguez grilled, alongside a salad of homegrown lettuce, parsley, cilantro, and sliced grilled peaches. I mixed up some harissa with yogurt and olive oil to use as a salad dressing/dipping sauce for the merguez. I no longer hate lamb, and will be making these sausages again, for sure.

Recipe for Homemade Merguez

Adapted from The New York Times, Cathy and Lynda

Ingredients:

*1 teaspoon cumin seeds
*1 teaspoon fennel seeds
*1 teaspoon ground coriander
*1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1 teaspoon sumac
*2-3 teaspoons paprika
*2-3 teaspoons cayenne pepper (or even more for a spicier sausage)
*2 pounds lamb shoulder (pastured, if possible), ground and chilled (I used my food processor, but you can also use a Kitchen Aid attachment to grind the meat)
*1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
*4 medium-large garlic cloves, minced
*1 tablespoon Kosher salt

Directions:

1. In a cast-iron skillet over low heat, toast cumin and fennel seeds until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer warm spices to a spice grinder or use a mortar and pestle to pound them until fine. Combine with the ground coriander, cinnamon, sumac, paprika, and cayenne pepper.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the chilled ground lamb with the spices, cilantro, and salt. Pinch off a little of the mixture, form into a patty, and fry in olive oil to see if you like the sausage. Adjust the seasonings, if necessary.

3. Form sausages into patties to cook immediately or for storing in the refrigerator or freezer, or proceed to stuff the mixture into casings. Chill well before stuffing into casings if going that route (see Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing
for a thorough discussion of stuffing sausage if you've never done it before).

recipe-for-merguez

To see what’s in store next month, check out the July challenge over at Mrs. Wheelbarrow.

 

16 Comments

  1. 1

    Cathy — June 15, 2011 @ 6:31 am

    I had no idea you harbored a lamb aversion. Glad to hear you’ve gotten over it! Your recipe adaptations are genius!
    :) In the meantime, if you can find goat, try making goat merguez. Really good!

  2. 2

    Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite — June 15, 2011 @ 6:36 am

    These look great – we only had hog casings so I decided to make chorizo instead. Merguez is definitely on our list to try soon. By the way, Peter is awesome – look at that meat, those dishes!!!!

  3. 3

    The Yummy Mummy — June 15, 2011 @ 6:53 am

    Love this post! All I can say is when the hell do I get to meet these people? And I really want to have meat hanging from my ceiling. Then I can die happy.

    Love your photos. You are so talented. xo

  4. 4

    Julia — June 15, 2011 @ 7:00 am

    What a great post, what nice things you said, and such great pictures! What great fun I had that day. So glad you got us together. And, I knew I’d be able to relive the day through your photos. That’s why I didn’t take any. : ) I think your merguez was really and truly amazing. So glad I got one!

  5. 5

    Oui, Chef — June 15, 2011 @ 7:17 am

    What a delicious way to confront your dislike of lamb, Winnie. Well done! – S

  6. 6

    Peter — June 15, 2011 @ 7:51 am

    Yes, good times. Your merguez made a wonderful lunch after you guys left.

  7. 7

    A Tale Of Two Sausages « cookblog — June 15, 2011 @ 9:38 am

    [...] should go read Winnie and Julia‘s posts about the great stuff-a-thon of aught eleven, especially since Winnie took [...]

  8. 8

    cara — June 15, 2011 @ 9:42 am

    OK, that looks absolutely amazing. I am really incredibly impressed. Wow!

  9. 9

    Ethan — June 15, 2011 @ 10:05 am

    Three people rockin’ it in the kitchen! homemade camembert, hanging meat, great homemade ceramic dishes and charcutepalooza. Some serious fun was had, thanks for sharing and congrats on overcoming your fear:)

  10. 10

    Celia — June 15, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

    These sausages look awesome…and your friends look even awesomer! Love that ceiling sausage, the merguez adaptation, and the journey back to lamb. I was feeling porked out last month too, and have come back to it with a vengeance; hope you do as well!

  11. 11

    Sherilyn @ Wholepromise — June 15, 2011 @ 8:40 pm

    Winnie thankyou, this is great. My husband has recently purchased a beast (pastured) and also bought the meat grinder and sausage making attachment for the kitchen aid. He will be trying this for sure and whilst i am not a big meat fan I wouldn’t mind giving these a try.

  12. 12

    Charcutepalooza, Sausage Stuffing and Friends — June 16, 2011 @ 7:13 pm

    [...] out we were not the only ones to make sausage-stuffing an interactive group activity. Go say hi to Winnie, Julia and Peter (homemade Camembert, yes please!) who had themselves a grand time as [...]

  13. 13

    Kimmy @ Lighter and Local — June 18, 2011 @ 7:56 pm

    Wow – how much fun! I read Julia’s post and loved what a fabulous time the three of you seemed to have! I also have an issue with lamb. One of these days I should get over it. I just hate the smell of it cooking, but in sausage form, we might be ok. Great job!

  14. 14

    Nutmeg Nanny — June 18, 2011 @ 9:48 pm

    What a fun gathering! Nothing like a day full of stuffing sausages :) Also I’m glad you got over your fear of lamb. It’s one of my favorite proteins…yum!

  15. 15

    Homemade Hot Dogs (Charcutepalooza Challenge #7) | Healthy Green Kitchen — August 9, 2011 @ 5:37 am

    [...] last month’s extremely fun sausage making get-together with Peter and Julia, I was really hoping we’d be able to do this month’s challenge [...]

  16. 16

    David Green — November 27, 2013 @ 9:15 pm

    $17 a pound???!!! Sacred heart! I just picked up 22 pounds of lamb today that cost me $6.00 a pound. On Saturday I bought a lamb from a local lamb farmer, Howard Morrie, now in his 80s. He pastures his sheep on a couple of islands just off the coast here, so they’re as free range and organic as it gets; plus they salt in the air finds it’s way onto the grass they graze on, which flavours the meat in a special way. He dropped off the lamb at the butcher on Monday, they let it hang for a couple of days, and trimmed and dressed it for .50 cents a pound. Shoulder roasts, shanks, chops, ribs, neck, and bits and scraps…..and I’m making merguez sausage this weekend….first attempt!

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