The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Making Merguez Sausage

May 8th, 2011 · 3 Comments · Posted in Recipes

Goat cheese omelet, lamb sausage, cassoulet

This month’s Charcutepalooza challenge suits me just fine. I like nothing better than grinding meat and stuffing sausages. I chose to make merguez–the classic Middle Eastern sausage with roasted red peppers, smokey Spanish paprika and a bit of heat from red pepper flakes–because I’d never tackled it before.

 Mergues usually comes out looking more like breakfast links, stuffed into lamb casings. But I didn’t have any lamb casings, so we ended up with monsters like the one you see in this photo. But who’s complaining? This made a terrific breakfast, along with an omelet stuffed with our favorite goat cheese and some leftover cassoulet on the side.

I purchased lamb shoulder for these sausages from my favorite local vendor, Bev Eggleston of EcoFriendly Foods. He has a stall at the Dupont Circle farmers market on Sundays where he displays a huge selection of various beef, pork, lamb and poultry products. A 5.13-pound cut of lamb shoulder cost me $43. When I removed the bones, I had 3.5 pounds of actual meat, making the price $12.28 a pound. That makes local lamb quite a bit more expensive than the boneless shoulder they were selling at Whole Foods, where the price was $7.99 a pound.

Bones removed from lamb shoulder

Is it worth it? I let readers ponder that question. If you purchase a bone-in shoulder, you will have some butchering to do.

But on to the sausage. The recipe in Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie calls for 4 pounds of lamb and 1 pound of pork fat back. I didn’t have the fatback and substituted pork shoulder, which seems to work just fine. Since I had less than four pounds of the lamb I just made up the difference with more pork. With the meat and my grinding tools very cold, I ground the meat roughly, then mixed in 3 tablespoons kosher salt, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 2 tablespoons minced garlic, 1 1/2 cups diced roasted red peppers, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper, 2 tablespoons Spanish paprika, 2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano.

Ground meat and other ingredients

Pass this mix through the grinder again with a small cutting disc. Again, everything should be kept very cold so that the fat in the meat doesn’t gum up the works. Then, using your hands, mix in 1/4 cup dry red wine and 1/4 cup ice water.

At this point, you would normally stuff the meat into lamb casings to make links, but I used pork casings. You can also simply form some of the meat into patties and fry it like breakfast sausage. Use your imagination. We’ve tried it both ways for breakfast and lunch. But I could easily see the links grilled for an outdoor feast with asparagus and a zesty salad.

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  • Stephanie Jenson

    That looks like the best breakfast ever! My favorites, goat cheese and lamb!


    Hi Ed,

    I saw in the Carroll County Times that you will be in Westminster on Saturday at the Go Local Fair. I don’t know if you will be able to visit a local butcher but I thought that I would pass the information along. If you drive up via 270 to Farther Hurley Boulevard (To Damascus) and up Route 27, there is an excellent butcher in Mount Airy that you will drive by. It’s called Wagner’s Meats and/ Mt. Airy meat locker. I go always order my slab pork belly (fresh bacon) from them. The quality and price just can’t be beat.

    The butcher I use most often because it is close to home is Bullock’s near the intersection of 32 and 97. Again the quality of their beef is awesome and their prices rival the grocery store.

    Both places close early afternoons on Saturday but they are open early…


    Carrie Will

  • Ed Bruske

    It’s true, Carrie. I am schedule to give a kids cooking demo at the fair. I will try to work the butchers into the trip. Thanks for the tip.