I’m so addicted to these spicy little skinless sausages that I’m considering doing an entire series on all the different ways to serve them. Just as delicious as a hearty breakfast served with eggs, all the way through to combining with a butter bean cassoulet, they are about as versatile as the humble snag - but waaayyyy more delicious.
Originating from North Africa, and traditionally long and thin, mine are more a variation on a lamb kofta, but naturally you can do whatever suits you best. They are pretty darn spicy thanks to lashings of harissa, but you can temper this with a minted yoghurt dressing. In my opinion though, you can’t go past dipping them in a prune and port relish (recipe below). The heat and the saltiness of the merguez sausage is balanced beautifully by this sweet condiment.
The two most important ingredients in sausage mince are fat and salt. Fat for flavour and texture and salt as a preservative. Apart from the shape, I like to keep my merguez sausages fairly traditional with plenty of spices and lots of harissa. The gorgeous red colour comes from the paprika and harissa. This recipe is incredibly versatile, so simple to pull together and can be made into kebabs, meatballs, burgers or even just stir fried as a simple mince.
So to celebrate Australia Day in the Aussiest way possible here is our take on the lamb sausage. Bon appetit!
500 gms lamb mince (you will need a fatty mix, not premium for best results)
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
3 tblsp harissa (depending on how hot it is and how hot you want it)
4 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp sumac
¼ cup fresh breadcrumbs
Toast the fennel seeds, coriander and cumin until fragrant. Mix with all other ingredients and blend well. You can use a food processor to do this, the fine mince setting on your mincer or alternatively just stir vigorously in a bowl until well combined. Shape into small sausages or kebabs, heat a frypan and fry until cooked through.
If you make them small enough these will make sensational little canapés, just perfect for that Australia Day gathering. Serve with a trio of dipping sauces, hummus, minted yogurt and a prune and port relish. Leftovers are wonderful for breakfast served with fried eggs and warm flatbreads.
PRUNE & PORT SAUCE
½ cup prunes
½ cup port
zest of 1 orange
Place the prunes in a bowl and pour the port over top. Add the orange zest and let sit for 4 hours at room temperature.Transfer mixture to a food processor and blitz until smooth.
1 tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp tahini
2 tsp crushed garlic
¼ to ½ cup water
Salt to taste
Blend all ingredients together.
MINTED YOGURT DIP
1 cup plain yogurt
½ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 clove small garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Whisk all ingredients together. Then, cover and refrigerate one hour.