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Merguez sausage or acceptable substitute?

Hey 'hounds,

A Tunisian friend of mine has told me in the same breath a) that I really should learn how to make 'ajja bil-merguez (an egg and sausage dish), and b) I won't be able to find the ingredients. After consulting Claudia Roden's Middle Eastern cookbook, I am sure that he refers to the merguez itself, a spicy Tunisian lamb-and-beef sausage; everything else in Roden's recipe is easy to find. I regard his dual claim as a dare, and am now set on hunting out some merguez, or something very close to it, so I can make this dish.

So does anyone have any leads on where I might accomplish this? I've already tried my usual go-to guys for all things Arab, Phoenicia and Sarah's, and neither of them carries merguez. Of course, there's lots of sausage in Central Texas, but I can't use just anything for this recipe. The strictures I'm trying to follow are that the sausage must be very spicy -- summer sausage will not serve here -- and, if at all possible, there should be no pork involved. (I'm not Muslim, but the recipe comes from people who are, and I'm certain that pork will not work as well for this reason.)

Looking forward to hearing some good ideas!

el-Ustaz

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  1. WholeFoods has merguez sometimes, the guy with the mustache behind the counter can tell you when they have them. I have been able to order them if they didn't have them. These are by far not the best but they are decent.

    1 Reply
    1. re: moosy

      Ah, good thought. I'll check in with them to see when I can grab some.

    2. As you know, N. Africa is not the Middle East, and the local retailers cater to Middle Eastern tastes. The Maghreb, where merguez is found, is not well represented in grocery markets in this country, with a few exceptions.

      It's not hard to make your own merguez. You can even find lamb casings (not locally, probably, but on the internets) in which to stuff the meat mixture. Use a wide mouth funnel for stuffing. Not hard at all...a piece of kaab el-ghzal !!

      2 Replies
      1. re: sambamaster

        Good grief -- making sausage from scratch in my tiny, tiny kitchen? One slip of the hand, and half a pound of ground guts goes flying into my bedroom! I think I'd better shelve this idea until I get proper living space for it.

        1. re: elustaz

          Since the only way you will get GOOD merguez in Austin, I'll wager is to make your own, bite the bullet, move the operation to a friend's house, and share the wealth!!!!

          It really isn't hard....

      2. You can get merguez from Kocurek Charcuterie at the Sunset Valley and Triangle Farmers Markets. http://www.austin360.com/food-drink/d...

        I also recommend their duck rillette.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bookgrrl72

          Intriguing! I'll have to stop by and see what they've got!

        2. I've seen merguez at Central Market on North Lamar from time to time. You might ask one of the butchers next time you're in there.

          1. Neshama products makes great sausages including moroccan and tunisian merguez - I found it at my local Whole Foods (SoCal), but looking at their website I see that it's a kosher brand, which also means no pork... they list where to purchase their products, including online sources, on their website: http://www.neshama.us/

            1 Reply
            1. re: califoodie

              Uhhhhh. Merguez is a product of Islamic N. Africa (or better, N. Africa which is now Islamic) which means it is typically a halal product, meaning not unlike kosher products, habib, and thus, pork ain't, well, kosher. The casing is usually lamb, the filling lamb or lamb and beef, or maybe beef. Pork is a no no. So, your find, being kosher, is probably likewise halal, though the two are not totally interchangeable. But I believe this original poster's goal was to make the dish from locally purchased products. I don't think the drive to "SoCal" would be entirely, well, again, kosher!!!!