Merguez

Someone asked me recently whether I had a Merguez Sausage recipe

I didn’t at the time, but it reminded me of how much I loved these North-African sausages, so I did some research

Having researched a few French language recipe sites for the basic ingredients (the French are big Merguez eaters and it is, in fact, from growing up in Luxembourg, in close proximity to France, with French Nannies/Housekeepers, that I developed my love for these spicy delights), I played around with quantities and this was the result:

Merguez

Merguez cooking on the BBQ

Merguez Ingredients:

  • Sheep Casings (I used ex. narrow hog casings because I didn’t have any sheep ones in the house, but Merguez are traditionally chippolata-thin.  I used about 10 yards of the ex. narrow hog casings, but with thinner ones, you’d need more)
  • 1.5kg approx. of Lamb Shoulder (with all the fat!) – roughly 2 shoulders of 2kg each, boned & diced by your butcher
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2tbsp Harissa (This makes a fairly mild Merguez as my eldest daughter wouldn’t eat it otherwise.  Adjust the quantity of Harissa according to your own tastebuds – the spicier/hotter you want your Merguez to be, the more you add)
  • 60ml cold water
  • 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1tsp paprika
  • 3tsp Ras el Hanout (readily available in the spices area in most major supermarkets) – the one I bought had whole seeds in and other chunky bits of ingredients, so I ground them down more with a pestle and mortar
  • 1tsp fennel seeds, ground with a pestle and mortar

Method:

Depending on the sausage casings you buy, these may require soaking for a few minutes or a few hours before use

Peel the garlic and place it in a bowl with the lamb

Sprinkle on the Ras el Hanout and fennel seeds, gently mix ingredients together to ensure the meat is more or less evenly coated (this will make it easier later)

Put the meat (coated in Ras el Hanout and Fennel Seeds) and the garlic through your meat mincer/grinder on a coarse setting

Add all the other ingredients and mix well but gently, without over-working the meat

Merguez - uncooked

Merguez – freshly made, uncooked

Tip: If you want to test the flavours (I don’t mind tasting raw meat, but you get a better idea of the flavour balance in the cooked end product), make a tiny little patty and fry it up in a non-stick pan, then taste and adjust seasoning if required.  It’s always better to have to add seasoning as you can’t take it out once it’s in!

Place the sausage casings on the nozzle of your sausage-making machine, feed through the meat mixture to make one long length of merguez sausage

Once you’ve made your long one-piece merguez, twist at regular intervals (each Merguez needs to be approx. 10cm long) and snip at the twists with scissors if you wish to separate them at this point.

Grill, BBQ, Pan-fry or cook on a griddle and enjoy!

Merguez Sausage – Gloriously Simple, Gloriously Good!

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Gratin Dauphinois | Potatoes Dauphinoise Style

I absolutely adore Gratin Dauphinois!

It is one of the most indulgent ways to eat potatoes and, for years, I thought this was a really complicated recipe to make.  I then watched Chef James Martin make them on TV once and he had a method of cooking them in a pan that made me think “Ah, I can do that!” so over the years, I’ve adapted ingredients and quantities and put my own spin on the recipe.  The great thing about cooking is that, even with classic dishes that have been established for a very long time, everyone can put their own ‘stamp’ on a dish and make it their own 🙂

This is my take on the classic Gratin Dauphinois (Dauphinoise Potatoes / Potatoes Dauphinoise Style) – whatever you want to call it 😉

These potatoes are particularly delicious as an accompaniment to roast lamb!

Gratin Dauphinois | Potatoes Dauphinoise | Dauphinoise Potatoes

Gratin Dauphinois (shown here with garlic & rosemary roast lamb and steamed broccoli)

Ingredients

For approx. 6 portions (depends how hungry you are!)

  • 1kg (approx.) potatoes (roughly 8-10 potatoes), peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 50g fresh salted butter
  • 600ml fresh double cream
  • 300ml fresh milk
  • 150-200g (depends how cheesy you like it) Gruyère or Emmenthal cheese
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly ground nutmeg, to taste

Method

  • Pre-heat oven to 180ºC (fan-assisted) – adjust heat & timings for non-fan-assisted ovens
  • In a deep Sauté Pan, melt the butter on a low heat
  • Add the thinly sliced shallots and finely chopped garlic to the butter and keep these on a low heat for about 5 mins, or until they have softened and acquired a ‘transparent’ look
  • Add the double cream and the milk (I like using the milk to ‘rinse out’ the double cream pot) to the pan
  • Season (to taste) with salt and freshly ground nutmeg (optional)
  • Stir and bring to the boil
  • Carefully place the potatoes into the creamy mixture
  • Stir to ensure the potato slices separate and the creamy mixture coats all slices – there should be a slight excess of liquid
  • Gently bring back to the boil
  • As soon as it comes to the boil, you’ll see the liquid starting to thicken – at this point, transfer the potatoes and cream to a DEEP oven-proof dish
  • Spread out evenly in the oven-proof dish
  • Sprinkle on the grated cheese evenly
  • Place in the oven and cook for approximately 50 mins (to check, poke with a skewer or fork…the potatoes should be soft and the cheese golden)

The dish is best left to rest for 10 mins or so after it comes out of the oven, to allow the creamy sauce to thicken a little bit, making it easier and more attractive to serve…that’s if you can wait that long!!!

It also tastes delicious (probably even better!) re-heated the next day, as this allows all the flavours to infuse.

Gratin Dauphinois | Potatoes Dauphinoise | Dauphinoise Potatoes

Gloriously Simple, Gloriously Good!

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