How cool is this? May's Charcutepalooza Challenge is grinding! Charcutepaloozers were given the choice of making breakfast sausage, Chorizo or Merguez. I had originally intended to make Chorizo and use it in tacos, but then a lovely leg of lamb became available at an excellent price. So I quickly switched gears to make Merguez, a sausage I had never heard of before the post announcing the May challenge. And I am so glad I did because I was completely wowed by our finished product.
I used the technique described by Michael Ruhlman in Charcuterie to grind the lamb: dice the lamb and remove as much connective tissue as possible, dice the pork back fat, then get them both as cold as possible before grinding. I spread the diced lamb and pork fat on cookie sheets and stuck them in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, I put together the spice mixture using this recipe I found while looking for Mrs. Wheelbarrow's version:
Merguez Lamb Sausage Spice Mixture
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed
- 1 teaspoon coriander seed
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons harissa
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoon paprika
- Heat a small heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add the cumin, fennel and coriander seeds and toast for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the seeds begin to color and smell enticing.
- Pour them from the skillet into a mortar and pestle. Grind the seeds until they begin to break down, then add the salt and garlic, grinding until you have a well combined paste. Add the harissa, pepper and paprika and grind until all the ingredients are incorporated into a thick paste.
Yield: mix with 2 pounds of lamb ground with 1/2 pound pork back fat to serve 6
Prep time: 10 minutes
The spice paste was mixed with two two pounds of lamb with one-half pound of the pork back fat prior to grinding.
I took some of the first grindings and cooked off a little piece to check the seasonings. It was at this point that I knew I had something special!
The grilled Merguez was served with pita, chopped tomato and red onion with a yogurt sauce on the side. Dinner absolutely rocked!
I am terribly impressed with myself and can't wait to grind more meat. I'm looking forward to grinding meat for burgers as well as making more sausage. Since I was doing this project during the week and was a little pressed for time, I decided to forego trying out the sausage-stuffing attachments on the first go-round. But I've got a pork butt in the fridge and pork sausage casings in the pantry. I've just need to decide what kind of sausage I want to make next.