Winner of the James Beard/ KitchenAid Cookbook of the Year 2000 and Winner of the Beard Award for the Best Writing on Food 2000.
June 1, 2023
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Mangia Bene

These two preserved meats from North Africa, or sausage in the case of merguez, were made by the Bedouin as well as the population at large. Merguez sausage, as it is now known, is a fresh or dried lamb sausage, also made with veal, usually formed in thin 4-inch links, highly spiced, and used in a variety of Tunisian preparations. Tunisians prefer the dried variety that is stored in olive oil-filled earthenware containers.

Merguez, for which there are several spellings even in Arabic (mirkas (ﻤﺮﻛﺲ), pl. marākis (ﻤﺮﺍﻛﺲ), mirkās (ﻤﺮﻛﺎﺱ), markas (ﻤﺭﻛﺲ) and mirqāz (ﻤﺮﻗﺲ) is famous in the Maghrib and perhaps is a derivation from the Greek mazes kreas (μάζης κρέας) which has the same sense.

The first written recipe for merguez (mirqāz) sausage is in an anonymous thirteenth-century Hispano-Muslim cookery book. Today there are several varieties, such as mirqaz kibda bi’l-liyya, made in the ratio of two thirds mutton liver to one third fat (liyya) and seasoned with harīsa, tābil, and salt. Mirqaz sayim is a sun-dried sausage preserved in olive oil after frying and is made with two parts lamb or mutton meat to one part fat and seasoned with harīsa, cinnamon, dried rose petals, salt, and black pepper. Mirqaz baqri is sun-dried veal sausage seasoned with preserved lemon, aniseed, harīsa, tābil, salt, and black pepper. Mirqaz dawwara is a sun-dried veal offal sausage preserved in olive oil after frying. It is made with coarsely chopped veal kidneys, tripe, heart, lung, and liver and seasoned with preserved lemon, harīsa, tābil, aniseed, salt, and black pepper.

In place of making your own merguez, the D’Artagnan company makes an excellent fresh merguez.

Qadīd (also transliterated kedide) is lamb jerky, a cured lamb meat prepared for the ‘Id al-adha festival (also called the ‘Id al-kabīr), the holiday feast celebrating the sacrifice of Abraham in Algeria and Tunisia. Qadīd is said to have been introduced to North Africa by the Arabs. Lamb meat is rubbed with garlic and lots of salt and left to dry for a day. Then the meat is rubbed with a spice mix of ground red chile, ground caraway and coriander seeds, and dried mint and sun-dried for some time. The qadīd is submerged in hot olive oil, as the merguez is, and then stored in glass or earthenware jars with the oil.