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 dislike of lamb and challenge myself to stuff the North African fresh lamb sausage known as merguez instead.
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 this merguez sausage into casings all by myself, though, so I decided to persuade fellow local charcutepaloozer’s Julia and Peter to stuff sausages with me.
Because making sausage is social. And because charcutepalooza rocks.
We planned the get-together quite spontaneously, 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.
Peter “dealing with” the sausage casings:
Peter and Julia making the first batch of sausage:
Notice the sausages and ham hanging from the ceiling…told you Peter was awesome:
Julia contemplating her sausage:
More sausage contemplation:
Peter twisting his sausage into links:
Some of our days’ work:
Sorry there aren’t any photos of me stuffing my links, but here they are all done:
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 dislike lamb, and will be making these sausages again, for sure.
Lamb Merguez Sausage
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp sumac
- 3 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp cayenne pepper or even more for a spicier sausage
- 2 lbs 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 garlic cloves medium-large, minced
- 1 tbsp Kosher salt
- 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.
- In a bowl, 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.
- 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.
- Serve Merguez Sausage with a fresh salad and a dipping sauce made from harissa chili pepper paste and yogurt.