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Merguez at a Glance
Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, North Africa
Type of Charcuterie
Lamb, fat, salt, pepper, garlic, cayenne, paprika, cumin, fennel, harissa
Mirqaz, mirkas, marakis, markas, mirqaz kibda bi'l liyya, mirqaz baqri, mirqaz sayim, mirqaz dawwara, spicy lamb sausage, lamb merguez, French-style merguez, saucisse merguez d'Agneau, saucisse merguez d' agneau et boeuf
Merguez is a French translation of the word mirqaz from the Arabic language. This sausage comes from North Africa and is popular among the Bedouin of Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria as well as the rest of the population. The first account of merguez sausage can be traced back to a Hispano-Muslim cookbook in the 13th Century.
During the French occupation, this recipe was taken back to France and became a popular food fair. It is often sold in the streets of Paris and is also well-liked in the Middle East, London, Belgium and some areas of the United States.
Being a short sausage, merguez is about 4 inches (100 mm) in length. It is also thin and with bright red color due to the large amounts of paprika used as well as cayenne and harissa, a Tunisian chili paste. This highly spiced sausage is traditionally made with lamb due to the prohibition of pork in the Islamic religion.
Some varieties may also use veal or mix beef together with lamb. A small amount of fat is usually added to the meat then spiced with salt, pepper, garlic, cayenne, paprika, cumin, fennel and harissa. The seasoned meat is then stuffed into lamb casings and frozen or pricked and left to dry in the sun for two days. Dried merguez may also be further preserved in containers with olive oil.
The ingredients used in merguez make for a fragrant sausage with a unique taste that is piquant with some lemony overtones. In North African cuisine merguez is used to flavor tagines and stewed. It is also usually eaten with couscous.
In other places it may be eaten as is with a side of fries or polenta. Other than this it can also be served as a sandwich when placed inside a baguette. In France it is made with mustard and mayonnaise and fries on top.
Aside from being placed in casings, merguez can also be made into a loose sausage. In such cases it is usually made into meatballs and hamburger patties and fried until it has browned.
Photo Credit: tok'art