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ElsieD

Merguez Sausage

11 posts in this topic

I am a relative newcomer to merguez sausage and have become very fond of it. So fond of it, I would like to make my own. Does anyone have a tried & true recipe for this? I don't think I would have any trouble finding ingredients as we have a large number of ethnic stores in this city. Thank you.

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Thanks for this. We shall be trying them - first we have to find ground lamb. The other ingredients are easy to find.

Elsie

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You should buy a chunk of lamb and grind your own. Ground lamb is always expensive and you can't always be assured of its quality, depending of course, where you live and shop. We buy a chunk of lamb, sometimes shoulder, sometimes boneless leg. We cut it into 1 or 1 1/2 lb. chunks and vacuum-seal them. We grind them when we are going to use them. (Don't grind them before freezing.) We have a lot of dishes that we like to make that call for ground lamb. It is nice to be able to just take a chunk out of the freezer. By the way, you want the meat to be really cold when you grind it. Grind it when it is still partially frozen.

By the may, let us know how your merguez turns out. Good luck.


"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne."

John Maynard Keynes

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Just for interest and amusement, I'll throw a cow into the mix. I've eaten lamb merguez at dozens and dozens of places in France, many Maghrébin, and many run by people from the ethnic majority, and have also made my own merguez from half a dozen recipes published both in English and in French; all of them are based on lamb. (Some non-Maghrébin butchers in France make merguez with a mixture of lamb and pork.) I spent about two months in Fès between the end of December 2008 and the end of February 2009. I looked for merguez made of lamb there, and in Meknes, and in several other northern Moroccan cities, buying it cooked from street-food stands, and at sit-down restaurants, and uncooked from butchers in the central markets, and from Western-styled supermarkets. No lamb. Every time I got it, it was made of beef, or (most commonly) beef and veal. I was mostly cooking for myself while I was there, and mostly bought stuff from the same couple of butchers at the main central market in the Ville Nouvelle of Fès, and asked them about the "substitution" of cow for sheep. They all told me more-or-less the same thing: "Maybe there is someplace in Morocco where they make merguez from lamb, but it's not what we do here. Maybe it's a French thing..." Only one of the many ways the food reality of Morocco confounded my preconceptions of the place.

Paul

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Merguez is not exclusively Moroccan. It's made all across North Africa, so perhaps lamb is more commonly used in one of the other countries in North Africa.

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I believe that the word 'mirguaz' (spelling variable) just translates as 'sausage'. (Same for the word 'chorizo'.)

Hence there can be no one definitive recipe, any more than there is a definitive US recipe for 'pie'.

Nevertheless, isn't it true to say that cows have been a rather rarer sight in North Africa than sheep and goats ... ?

The recipe I cited above is a simplified version of that given by Sam & Sam Clark in 'Casa Moro', and would seem to be of Marrakesh origin. Its "simplified" in that it glosses over details like the use of dried rose petals and the specification of lamb kidney fat, etc.

Even so, hopefully it should meet consumer expectations of the sausage style conjured up by the use of the name Merguez. Anyway, I'm sure that recipe is much closer to the style's muslim roots than the Ruhlman & Polcyn ("Charcuterie") version which uses pork fat and wine ...

And I do rather like the idea of using the length of the sausage to indicate its potency - the shorter, the hotter!


"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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I believe that the word 'mirguaz' (spelling variable) just translates as 'sausage'. (Same for the word 'chorizo'.)

Hence there can be no one definitive recipe, any more than there is a definitive US recipe for 'pie'.

Nevertheless, isn't it true to say that cows have been a rather rarer sight in North Africa than sheep and goats ... ?

Absolutely! As for spelling, it's المرجز or المركذ, I think, so the short vowels will be generally understood if they're performed anywhere from a /ε/ to a /ə/. ("Merguez" uses a true English "hard G" sound, which isn't used in most Arabic dialects, but which is common in western Arabic words which come from Berber roots. The "correct" spelling would use a kef with 3 dots, but that's not even present in normal Arabic computer fonts, and it's a word from languages - like Derija - which are generally only spoken, not written. Really, even if they're written in the Arabic character set, they're being transliterated. Whoops, I seem to have gone off on a linguistic side trip.... back to foodways! ) However, in the markets, other sausages, like a wider one with liver in it, seemed to be called by their more specific names. Modern Standard Arabic seems to use the word السجق for sausage in general, but I don't know that word - not that I know many words, period. I don't remember hearing it in the markets, but - having missed 99% of what was going on, in general - vendors may have been using that word. We were speaking French with a few words in Derija added in, generally.

But cows are decidedly rarer than sheep and goats as you drive through the countryside, and those which are in sight are almost always in small herds of 2 to 10 Holstein-breed dairy cows, a bony breed at best, and definitely on the anorexic side there. A lot of the foothills of the Rif look (in winter) like the hills of central California, which do support the grazing of beef cattle, but I never saw a beef cow. Also interesting to me was the fact that the forcemeat was usually (not always) unspiced, save for salt.

Paul

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I believe that the word 'mirguaz' (spelling variable) just translates as 'sausage'. (Same for the word 'chorizo'.)

Hence there can be no one definitive recipe, any more than there is a definitive US recipe for 'pie'. ...

By the way, I found the chorizo contention interesting, also, and checked it by looking at the Spanish Wikipedia page for Chorizo. It looks like the generic word for "sausage" (stuffed sausage, anyway) is "enbutido," with "chorizo" being reserved for pork sausages, the flavoring of which is dominated by pimentón. That being said, there is certainly a large range of sausage and forcemeat which is called chorizo, from the unstuffed forcemeat sold in Mexican markets and carnicerías, to three-inch thick semi-dry sausages which only have enough minced meat in them to hold the big chunks of pork together in the casing. (That's a version from both sides of the western Pyrénées, which is commonly available in the butcher shops in south western France and in Basque Spain, along with a skinny version about a foot long, and sold in a loop. I've forgotton what part of Spain the skinny loop comes from - anyone remember?) I don't think I've ever seen the chorizo most familiar to Mexican and western US consumers available for sale in Spain or France; not even the cuts of meat included are the same. Variety meat byproducts and salivary glands in Spain? Never!

Paul


Edited by PaulDWeiss (log)

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... I don't remember hearing it in the markets, but - having missed 99% of what was going on, in general - vendors may have been using that word. ...

Hmmm - that strikes me as singularly ungraceful English. It was, of course, I who missed 99% of what was going on, not the vendors! Sorry.

Paul

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In Antony and Araminta Hippisley Coxe's "Book of Sausages" (Gollancz, 1987) they say "Merguez (Algeria) A highly spiced, short, stumpy, beef sausage which is usually grilled" (emphasis added).


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.
Unless there are three other people." Orson Welles
My eG Foodblog

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