Since I had lamb on hand I decided to make a merguez, a fresh North African lamb sausage. I mainly used this recipe, although of course I ground my own meat instead of starting with ground lamb. I also used prepared harissa. There is a great Mediterranean restaurant in my area called Cava Mezze and they sell a line of hummus, tzatziki, harissa and other Mediterranean condiments at local Whole Foods. I love harissa, it's a great dip for pita (if you want to eat pita) and a really good marinade for chicken. It's also what gives merguez it's awesome flavor.
Anyway, the first step for making sausage was to take the lamb out of the freezer, and put the stainless steel bowls (one from the mixer and one extra) and all the metal parts of the grinder in the freezer. Everything I've read said that sausage works best when everything is as cold as possible. I basically just let the meat thaw enough so that I could cube it and then ground it while it was still partially frozen. I also put my casings (I used Eastman Outdoors casings I ordered on Amazon) in a bowl of warm water to prepare them.
After I had the meat cubed I but it in a bowl along with the flavorings (cilantro, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, coriander, and harissa) and a few pieces of pork fat. I got the fat from the butcher at Whole Foods, I just asked for some trimmings and they actually didn't even charge me for it. It's good to have on hand because sausage needs to be about 40% fat or else the texture gets weird.
Looking back, however, I probably did this in the wrong order. i should have added the seasonings after the meat was ground. I think that would have been cleaner and easier overall.
After adding the seasonings I passed the meat through the grinder once, using the larger die. This is what it looked like:
I stored the ground lamb in the freezer while I put the stuffer attachments on the mixer. At this point my casings had been soaking for about 30 minutes and I had rinsed them a few times to try and get rid of the salt they were packed it. I chose to use the larger of the stuffing tubes and loaded on my casing.
Next came the actual stuffing part. This was a little tricky, and I could definitely use some practice. I think I was letting the casings out too quickly and not letting them fill up enough. Overall it's easier than it looks though. The machine really does most of the work for you. Here's my finished product:
This is actually only about half of the sausage I made that day. I started with about 3 pounds of lamb and ended up with about 20 links. We ate the ones pictured for dinner that night. I just put them in a pan with water and a little bit of oil. The water cooked them through and when it evaporated the oil crisped the skins.
The sausages were delicious. Spicy but still very fresh tasting. They were much less red than other merguez I've had before, and I'd like to think that's because I didn't use any artificial ingredients. They still tasted just as good as any merguez I've eaten before though. I served them with green beans and a roasted carrot and parsnip soup.
Next I think I'll try a beef chorizo.