what heathcliffe did next: merguez mezze

merguez with green pepper
Heathcliffe had asked me to pick up some merguez sausages from Phoenicia, my local middle eastern deli in Kentish Town. Fortunately I know what merguez sausages look like. A peculiar thing to say you might think, but the butcher's counter meats are labelled in Arabic (which I don't read) and quite often I am mystified by what I am actually looking at. Gargantuan cuts of meat the like of which I have never seen before, hugger-mugger with somewhat grotesque mounds of sausage. But still I come in to browse, hoping that I'll get one of the friendlier butchers to explain to me what exactly it is I am looking at. Occasionally when I'm feeling brave or adventurous I'll actually buy something.

But on this day, it was easy to recognise the merguez, spicy lamb sausage . They were quite obvious - almost illuminating the inside to the chilled meat counter with their fiery presence - a glow in the corner enveloping the sausages. Sausages with attitude and a feisty one at that. Minced lamb, fragrant with glorious middle eastern spices, from cumin and coriander to fennel and cayenne pepper. Spiked with lashings of harissa paste. These uncooked sausages were almost purple in colour and flecked with an almost neon red (from the chilli). I couldn't wait to try them; looking forward to this rather heady mixture.

I took my purchase around to Heath's gaff, for his Mediterranean feast. And this is what Heath did next!

Skill level: Easy

3-4 merguez sausages, cut into thick slices (about 1 cm thick)
olive oil
1 x red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 green pepper, diced
2 - 3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
tomato paste
smoked paprika
a pinch of sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
chopped parsley to serve (optional)


  1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan (that has a lid). Add the merguez and quickly fry on a medium heat until coloured. They will exude fat and spices into the pan, which you will want to keep.
  2. When lightly coloured, remove the sausage and set aside, but make sure that you still have the spicy oil in the pan.
  3. Add another tablespoon of oil and then add the onions, coat in oil and fry gently for 5 to 10 minutes until soft but not coloured. (This always takes longer than you think it will!) Keep the lid on and this will aid in the cooking. Stir occasionally.
  4. Add the peppers, and with the lid on, continue to cook for another 4 to 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes, a couple of tablespoons of water and a squeeze of tomato paste. Stir.
  6. Add a pinch of sugar and about 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika. Stir, then bring to a gentle simmer and cook for another 5 minutes until the tomatoes have broken down into the sauce.
  7. Add the merguez sausage pieces and warm through.
  8. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  9. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.


o cozinheiro este algarve said...

I do something very similar to this but with chicken and the addition of Cumin. So delicious.

Corina said...

I love merguez. It's a shame its so hard to find. I often end up having to substitute it for chorizo which looks similar but tastes quite different.

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Rupert - Cumin is one of my absolute favourite spices . . . have you posted this on your blog . . . I should have a root through!

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Corina - much as I love Chorizo (and boy do I!) there are just some places where it doesn't work - wrong texture and not enough kick!

o cozinheiro este algarve said...

Rachel- yes I posted this back in April under the title "One for all or all for one". Hope you enjoy it, It really is one of my moorish favourites.