Originating from North Africa, particularly Morocco, merguez is a spiced lamb or beef -- or a mixture of the two -- sausage with a distinctive red coloring and spicy bite, thanks to harissa paste, paprika and cumin. Compared with traditional pork or beef sausages, merguez has a denser, chewier texture and goes well with simple side dishes, such as lentils or couscous. In North Africa and France, merguez is a vital ingredient in hearty tagine stew, accompanied by vegetables and couscous.
Pan-fry merguez sausages on a hot griddle for seven to 10 minutes, turning regularly with the tongs, until the skin has taken on a brownish tinge. Prick any bubbles that appear in the casing during pan-frying solely to avoid an explosion of hot oil later on. Ideally, reduce the heat and extend cooking time to avoid losing juices through bubbles in the casing, which is otherwise impermeable. Serve with a simple side to fully showcase the intense sausage flavor.
Roast a tray of sausages in an oven preheated to 390 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes and serve with lentils. Sprinkle with coriander for an extra Middle Eastern flourish.
Sauté the links in a hot, heavy skillet with ½ cup of water for 12 minutes, until the water has evaporated and the sausages are brown. Serve with couscous and boiled collard greens.
Brown the sausages in a pan for 10 minutes, then add to a combination of lamb shoulder, chicken thighs and a spicy vegetable stew, including turnips, zucchini, chickpeas and cabbage, as part of Couscous Royale, a classic Middle Eastern dish that is typically eaten communally from a shared tureen.
The spicy sausage can also oust herby links in puff pastry sausage rolls. Bake the rolls in an oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, taking care to place them on a wire rack to allow excess fat to drizzle onto a tray below, rather than making the pastry soggy.
- Merguez sausages impart an innovative twist to traditional sausage recipes. For a hot dog that packs real heat, the French serve merguez in a length of baguette oozing Dijon mustard as a popular street food.
- Traditional merguez are halal, meaning the lamb or beef comes from an animal raised on a natural diet. These merguez also conform to the kashrut requirements of the kosher diet.
- Those on a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet should avoid merguez, since each sausage typically packs more than 200 calories and around 50 mg of cholesterol. The sausages are also high in sodium.
Nick Marshall is a UK-based writer specializing in trends and best-practice in the B2B sector.
Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images