Intro: Merguez Sausage: Lamb Sausage From the Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook
This recipe is from “The Book of Cooking in Maghreb and Andalus in the era of Almohads, by
an unknown author.” It is commonly known in English today as: “The Anonymous Andalusian
Cookbook.” The major part of the English translation is by Charles Perry, a scholar, food historian,
and writer of a food column for the L.A. Times. The book's original title was:
Kitab al tabij fi-l-Maghrib wa-l-Andalus fi `asr al-Muwahhidin, li-mu'allif mayhul
Or Kitab al tabikh fi-l-Maghrib wa-l-Andalus fi `asr al-Muwahhidin, li-mu'allif majhul.
The Andalucía, or Al-Andalus, was the Arabic name given to the parts of the Iberian
Peninsula and Septimania governed by Arab and North African Muslims
Step 1: Preparing Cuts of Meat
"First get some meat from the leg or shoulder of a lamb and pound it until it becomes like meatballs."
I took the lamb shoulder and cut it into small pieces. Then I pounded it with a tenderizing hammer until it was a mush.
Step 2: Further Preperations
Although the original recipe called for pounding, this seemed incredibly labor intensive. To speed up the process, I ran the meat through a grinder and then pounded it to achieve the desired texture.
Step 3: Seasoning
"Knead it in a bowl, mixing in some oil and some murri naqî' , pepper, coriander seed, lavender, and cinnamon."
Murri naqi was a salty sauce made by rotting barley. It takes vaguely like soy sauce, which is much easier to obtain.
Then I added the ingredients called for in the recipe. Like most period recipes, no real quantities
are given, so I just went with what looked right as far as proportions and what I thought would taste best.
six ounces of extra virgin olive oil.
Two tablespoons of ground pepper
Two tablespoon of ground lavender.
One tablespoon of Coriander
One tablespoon of Ceylon Cinnamon
Step 4: Taste Testing the Mixture
I fried a small piece of this mixture to taste and see if I needed to adjust any of the seasoning
Step 5: Adding the Fat
"Then add three quarters as much of fat, which should not be pounded, as it would melt while frying, but chopped up with a knife or beaten on a cutting board."
I asked the local butcher to save me lamb fat for making the sausage.
I cut up the frozen lamb fat into small pieces and mixed it in with the meat.
This was done because the recipe calls for the fat to be in larger chunks.
Step 6: Preparing the Casing and Stuffing
"Using the instrument made for stuffing, stuff it in the washed gut, tied with thread to make sausages, small or large."
I washed the lamb sausage casing. I fed a casing over the extruder horn. Then I put the meat into the grinder and
turned the wheel to force it through into the casings.
My efforts resulted in about a dozen six inch sausage links.
This sausage differs from modern sausages in that it does not have any added salt.
However, the murri naqi is very salty. I don’t know that it would have the preservative effect that salt
would so I would eat this as a fresh sausage if refrigeration was not available or smoke it to cure it.
Step 7: Cooking
The sausage is fried and then served with vinegar and oil with cilantro.
The sausage is juicy, with a light hint of the spices but not enough to overwhelm the flavor of the meat.
The predominant flavor is that of the soy sauce with a little bit of a floral/sage taste of the aromatics.
It can be fun to make a 600 year old recipe come to life again.