I made some merguez sausages recently – proper ones, with lamb and spices, stuffed into actual sausage skins. They were fabulous. But it occurred to me, brainbox that I am, that most people don’t have the time or inclination to make their own sausages, or indeed possess a sausage stuffer. So this is for you. You’re welcome.
So … make patties, not sausages. It’s infinitely quicker and easier and with the added benefit of all the extra caramelised, crispy bits you get after frying. If you want to stretch the mix further, make meatballs and finish them in a tomato sauce.
The next short cut – buy a pack of plain, good-quality pork sausages. I used pork because lamb sausages are hard to find unless you have a butcher who makes his/her own merguez, in which case by all means save yourself a job and buy them (although the merguez I’ve bought from UK butchers has so far been a bit uninspiring.)
You can use lamb or beef mince if you prefer, but you’ll need to season the mix with plenty of salt and black pepper in addition to the spices. Check the seasoning by breaking off a small amount and frying it.
Finally, if you have time, use whole spices and toast them briefly in a dry pan before grinding.
Merguez Sausage Patties
450g good quality pork sausages
1 or 2 fat cloves of garlic, to taste, crushed
1/2 tspn ground coriander seed
1/2 tspn ground cumin seed
1/2 tspn ground fennel seed
1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tbsp harissa
Oil, for frying
Skin the sausages and place the meat in a bowl. Add the spices and garlic and mix well … easiest to get your hands in there. Wear gloves if raw sausage meat grosses you out.
Divide into eight portions, roll into balls in the palm of your hands then flatten to form into patties. They should hold together well without cracks, but try not to compact them too much or their texture will be too heavy.
Ideally, chill the patties, covered, in the fridge for an hour or two (overnight is fine) for the flavours to meld, though it’s not the end of the world if you can’t. Bring them back to room temperature for 20 minutes or so before cooking. Heat a few tablespoons of oil on a medium heat and fry on both sides until browned and cooked through.
They are even better brushed with a little oil and cooked on the barbecue, weather permitting, but do please ensure they’re thoroughly cooked. (This does not mean turn them into charcoal.)
Try them with either a garlicky yoghurt sauce and/or mayo with a good dollop of harissa stirred into it. Mix chopped soft herbs to either sauce if you have them.
Add a salad on the side and some warmed pitta breads and you’re good to go.