Merguez Sausage

February 24, 2008


I decided to start my sausage-making attempts with merguez sausage because, not only does it incorporate some of my favorite flavors – spicy and lamby with North-African influences, but you can’t find it around where I live.  It didn’t hurt that I could cheat on grinding the meat as my local butcher, Danny Rohrer, carries ground lamb.  The way I saw it, I was going to attempt to make and stuff the sausage, and learning one step at a time was enough.  

With preground meat, the sausage-making was a snap.  I tossed the spices into my KitchenAid, mixed in the lamb, and incorporated the red wine and water until the mixture had achieved what is called its “primary bind.”  All this means is that the spices and meat have come together in a sticky ball.   I tried to work quickly to keep the meat well-chilled, apparently a key point in sausage-making.  Charcuterie warns often that letting the meat get warm will affect the final texture of the sausage, and recommends chilling between steps of the process.  

So warned, I put the bowl of sausage in the freezer to get cold again and pulled out the sheep intestines, “natural casings”, I had received in the mail earlier in the week.  And this is where things began to get a bit dicey.  You can at this point merely portion your sausage and use it loose in recipes or in patty form, freezing what you will not use in the next day or so.  Or you can attempt to wrangle it into a sheep intestine to form links.  Upon my first whiff of the casings, I will admit to having doubts about the whole process. 

But the book said to soak the casings and so after separating out 3 strands from the salty lump of intertwined casings, I put them in water and walked away for a half hour or so.  Which vastly improved my state of mind.  I came back ready to rinse and rerinse the casings, determined that I could do this.  The smell having dissipated rendered the casings much less scary, kind of slippery and wiggly and amazingly strong for something so thin.  It wasn’t until I started to rinse the insides of the casings that they began to knot up on themselves, which made the process an exercise in patience.  Finally (and more quickly than it seemed, I’m sure), the casings were ready.

I hooked up my KitchenAid food grinder attachment with the sausage stuffer, slid one of the casings up over the tip, and promptly had to call for help.  R. obliging left his accounting homework behind and came to the rescue.  Between the two of us, we wrestled the sausage into the casing, though it was not an easy job.  We have some ideas for the next round (freezing the meat in indivdual balls or tubes that would fit into the feeder tube?), but if anyone has any suggestions on how to sucessfully tame a KitchenAid sausage stuffer, they would be much appreciated.

To celebrate the sausage wrangling, we took the last of the unstuffed sausage and fried it up with potatoes into an impromptu hash.  The spicy red-pepper flavors of the lamb merguez mingling with the crisp potatoes.  Along with eggs sunny-side up, yolks golden and still runny, we sat down to breakfast for dinner, always a comforting reward at the end of a hard job…


Merguez Sausage

     adapted from Charcuterie, makes quite a bit of sausage

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced 
  • 3/4 cup roasted red pepper, diced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon spanish paprika
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced

combine all above ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on.  add

  • 3 pounds ground lamb

mix until incorporated and add

  • 1/8 cup dry red wine, chilled
  • 1/8 cup ice water

mix on medium ~ 1 minute until mixture has a uniform and sticky appearance.  place bowl in refrigerator to chill.  portion lamb sausage.  stuff into casings if you dare.  double wrap any sausage you are not going to use within 3 days in cling film and freeze.

22 Responses to “Merguez Sausage”

  1. Anticiplate Says:

    So, this is the delicious sausage that you said would pair well with my sage and garlic fettuccine! Wow! I am sooooo impressed.

  2. KJ Says:

    Wow, I’m so impressed. They look really professional.

    I have tried making sausages once before – lamb and chocolate. Surpisingly, they turned out rather well.

  3. charcuteire Says:

    I don’t use the KA stuffer, so no real advice on it’s use other than leave the die and blade out. However the casings will fit over the tube much easier if they are wet. Keep them in a bowl of water and feed over the tube from that, also have water on the side to keep the tube wet. This will take some practice.

    I bought a five lb. stuffer from Northern Industrial, just about $100, and have used that since I started.

    On the KA meat grinder, it should also be very cold, but don’t put it in the freezer. You could chip the blade, per my sausage instructor at CIA. Instead put it, in pieces, into an ice water bath. Also don’t forget to steel the blade, both sides, before it goes into the bath. Steeling will heat the blade up.

  4. hshaw Says:

    Nice job! Charcutiere is right about wetting the nozzle – makes it a lot easier. Slipping the sheep casing on (sheep casings are trickier than the wider hog casings, BTW) is the step that always prompts the off-color jokes around my house, so you get an idea about how it might go on.
    Stuffers are better than the Kitchen Aide, but I would only recommend them if you really want to get into this hobby. Like Charcutiere said, they are about $100. If you have a decent restaurant supply store nearby, order one and save on shipping!
    Did you link up those sausages? That roll looks pretty.
    Oh, and the reason everything needs to be cold is because the bind might break otherwise. This happened to me a few times before I took it really seriously.
    What happens is your sausage tastes fine, but the texture is kinda crumbly and doesn’t really work in the casing. I slit those sausages and put the meat into a sause.
    Good luck!

  5. Gilli Says:

    Wow I am really impressed that sausage looks so professional.
    How did it taste.

  6. Peter Says:

    Your Merguez looks yummy and I learned a couple of things too!

    I assume you’re referring to the Ruhlman Charcuterie book?

    I think I’m going to have to splurge on it.

    I look forward to seeing more sausage & such here.

  7. Dave Says:

    Wow, quite impressive. I’ve had it in France a couple times and a couple months ago, I found it in Columbus! And, it was just as good as I remember. I saute it with chickpeas and greens (chard is good).

  8. Dave Says:

    Oops, sorry, another question. What cut of lamb? Don’t you need more fat than that? Merguez is pretty fatty.

  9. We’ve been talking about making sausage soon too! We have never worked with the casing before, but you’ve definitely inspired us to get going on it!
    BTW- our first cooking video is up!

  10. charcuterista Says:

    KJ: lamb and chocolate? way to be adventurous! I really like chocolate as a flavor undertone in savory dishes like moles or cincinnati chili; I don’t see why it wouldn’t work here…

    charcuteire: Thanks for the link the to Northern Industrial; it seems like they have great prices on professional style stuffers. I think I’m going to break down and get one sooner or later. One more appliance that only does one thing, sigh. Plus I’ll try the ice water soak for my KitchenAid bits next time – I knew if you had metal pieces they went in the freezer, but I wasn’t sure how to treat all the plastic of mine…

    hshaw: Thanks for the encouragement! I am going to try hog casings next and see how they go. By the time we had finished stuffing the sausage, my patience was shot, so my (kitchen professional) boyfriend took pity on me and linked them, beautifully I might add. And I didn’t have a problem with the sausage breaking until the last 10 inches of so, but thanks for the tips there, I’ll be more careful next time for sure.

    Gilli: the sausage was lovely, though next time I might up the spiciness a bit. I am a hot and spicy food junkie.

    Peter: I am referring to the Ruhlman Charcuterie book. It’s completely worth the splurge and has opened my eyes to things I had no idea I could make…

    Dave: Since I used preground lamb, I have no idea what cuts were used, but it seemed pretty well marbled and worked well in the sausage without additional fat. I think you would have the judge the meat on a case by case basis.

    WhiteOnRiceCouple: Best of luck with your sausage adventures! I’m heading over to your site to check out the cooking video now…

  11. peabody Says:

    Wow, your own sauasage…now that is great.

  12. Stephen P Says:

    That looks good!

    Are there many good quality butchers making great sausages near you? I run which lists over 1200 UK recommended butchers but, as always, I am keen to expand my horizons!



  13. bob Says:

    I tried using a Kitchen Aid on home made hotdogs once… ONCE… it was completely exasperating. It worked a bit better (so I’m told) with coarse-ground sausage like italian. At any rate, the $40 stuffer picked up a Bass Pro shops worked much better.

    And yes… its much better with fatty lamb… I’ve done the merguez about 3 times now. Once in the same prep you made (the Charcuterie recipe with ground lamb), once from a Tunisian cook book (ground my own lamb shoulder, and used middle-eastern-store-purchased pre-mixed harissa), and the final time as a mix of both – I used the lamb shoulder and stepped on it with some left over pork belly fat – and then used roasted red peppers, harissa, extra garlic, funky week old red wine…. that prep kicked serious caboose…

  14. Jonathan Says:

    This is great – thanks for this post. We just got a sausage making attachment for the KA and Merguez is one of the first types we want to make. This is a keeper recipe.

  15. James Says:

    Give away your KA stuffer/grinder. I wasted my money on this crap.

  16. Lisa Says:

    The casings that I buy from my butcher come handily squidged onto a plastic tube with these little finger handles so that you can pull it over the end of your sausage stuffer. Makes the job of fitting the casings over the end of the spout much easier.

  17. dp Says:

    I love Charcuterie and have made several things from it. The Canadian bacon, pancetta and maple bacon recipes are wonderful and worth trying.

    As for the KA is a piece of shit. I had so much trouble with it. Even with an extra set of hands, I don’t think it would have worked out better. I think it has to do with the meat coming back up the hopper tube because that flimsy piece of plastic they give you to shove it down with just sucks. I hear you can get a wooden thing that does a better job of pushing the meat down, but you have to order it special from KA. As a result, I haven’t stuffed any sausages since my first batch. Will probably have to buy a separate sausage stuffer. Good luck in the future!

  18. Louise Says:

    Beautiful work! I’ve successfully used a Kitchen Aid stuffer on quite a few batches of sausage, and yes, it can gum up quickly. Try freezing the meat in smaller portions. Usually, I put a few blobs on a cookie sheet, repeat with as many cookie sheets an necessary, then put one cookie sheet in the freezer for 20 minutes and the others in the fridge. Take the one out of the freezer for stuffing and move another from the fridge to the freezer, and so on. Yes, it adds more work, but I have found success with this. Also, I’ve noticed that on my most successful batches, my hands literally ache by the end from handling all of that cold meat. So my guess is if your hands didn’t hurt, the meat likely became too warm.
    I look forward to following you in your future adventures!

  19. Alex Says:

    I don’t know about the KA meat grinder/stuffer, but the Cuisinart works like a charm. Also, spray the nozzle of your stuffer with olive oil before trying to fit the casing over it, it will make the task a lot easier.

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  21. […] mostly by a random charcuterie blog I found upon Googling, which was quite helpful. So, inspired by Charcuterista and my general knowledge of Moroccan flavors, here’s my homemade merguez […]

  22. […] little more than a week ago we had a bbq for my wife Yael’s birthday. We got some wings, some Merguez sausage (spicy North African flavors which we will try to replicate sometime this year) and on the […]

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