What I had for dinner:

Merguez and Leek Sandwich

[ Previous ] 6 Sep 1994 09:45:20 -0400 [   Next   ]

I've been making sausages on and off for a long time, but never really found a wholly satisfying process. One of the main problems is that it requires three hands, which is a difficult proposition even for a molecular geneticist!

The solution that seems to work is to use electricity, just like in these "Wonders of the Future" exhibits at world fairs. With one trivial adjustment, a battery-operated cookie press makes a superb sausage machine .

I used the Hamilton-Beach Super Shooter (As Seen On TV!!!) in which I simply cut off the prongs at the end of the large nozzle to make a large round opening.

The merguez are lamb sausages with a typical North-African spice mixture. They are often eaten as snacks, but can also show up on a couscous or with stewed vegetables. It is unfortunately impossible to find good ones in Manhattan. Balducci's are particuliarly mediocre.

I first ground thoroughly 2 tbsp of coriander seed, 1/2 tsp of rosemary, 1 tsp of cumin, 1/2 tsp of mace, 1 tsp of black pepper, and 1/4 tsp of cinnamon in an electric grinder. Then I added 3 cloves of garlic, 2 handfuls of trimmed and seeded serrano peppers (it should be cayenne, but they are hard to find), and about 1 cubic inch of pork fat (salted back fat; of course, that's utterly inauthentic: view it as "multicultural") and ground the mixture to a paste. I then added a pinch of sodium nitrite (not necessary if they are going to be all used immediately or frozen) and 3/4 lb of ground lamb, and mixed it well together by hand.

The sausage casing (lamb casing, from Citarella. A lifetime supply for about $15) is bunched carefully on the nozzle under running water, which helps open and unwind the casing. Then the cookie press is assembled, about 3/4 filled with the sausage mixture, and with one hand controlling the switch and one hand guiding the emerging sausage, the merguez are ready in a couple of minutes (it takes two runs to use this amount of meat). Sausages are separated by twisting links every 5 inches or so and tying them with extra gut or kitchen string. This makes about 4 feet.

To cook the merguez, use low heat and a non-stick pan, and prick them to let the fat escape as soon as they are beginning to get done.

The (small) leeks are washed thoroughly, trimmed, and boiled 10 min, then drained well (and squeezed by hand as they get cool enough).

On half a French baguette sliced lengthwise in half, place two merguez, a couple of leeks, drizzle some lemon juice, olive oil, and salt to taste.

Preparation time: 1 hour. Eating time: 5 min. :-)

Merguez can be kept frozen for weeks, and can be cooked directly, without prior thawing.

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