Markat Merguez

Markat Merguez
Markat merguez literally translates to ‘merguez stew’. Merguez is a classic Tunisian sausage of Andalusian origin with lamb as the primary ground meat base, although the base can be modified to a combination of lamb and beef, or just beef. The potent aroma of fennel seed is a unique characteristic of merguez, so much so that the smell of fennel seed on its own instantly takes us back to the many late lunches in Ariana and Nabeul prepared by our mother.
If you are familiar with merguez, you may be confused by the dish’s imagery. ‘Why are they calling these meat balls merguez?’ The simple answer is that these ovals of deliciousness are slightly different and skinless versions of the longer and thinner merguez sausages that come with their casing and that are often barbecued or pan fried. Throughout the cooking process of the dish, the merguez ovals cook in the fragrant sauce, both releasing their spicy juices and absorbing the flavors of the oily sauce… A beautiful symbiotic relationship. 
The spice blend and harissa paste add an extra layer of flavor and spiciness to this dish. This is our mother’s recipe, which calls for ground beef. You'll need the following:

  

Merguez ovals: 

Ground beef, 90% lean (1 lb)

Garlic, minced (4 cloves)

Fennel seed (2 tsp)

Turmeric (1 tsp)

Paprika (1 tsp)

Salt (1 tsp)

Black Pepper (½ tsp)

Olive oil (1 tbsp)

Harissa paste (1.5 tbsp)

 

Sauce:

Water (2 cups)

Harissa paste (1 tbsp)

Olive oil (2 tbsp)

Tomato paste (2 tbsp)

Turmeric (1 tsp)

Paprika (1 tsp)

Black Pepper (½ tsp)

Salt (1 tsp)

Pickled kalamata olives (10-12)

Pickled castelvetrano olives (6)

Pickled cauliflower and carrots from giardiniera mix (as desired)

Step 1. In a bowl, add the fennel, turmeric, paprika, salt, pepper, minced garlic, harissa paste, and olive oil to the ground beef. Mix it all well with your hands until all ingredients are well incorporated into the ground beef.

zwita markat merguez step 1

Step 2. With your hands, take small amounts of the ground beef mixture and pack them into small ovals (2 inches long, 1 inch wide).

 zwita markat merguez step 2

Step 3. In a pot, add the olive oil and set the heat to medium. Add the tomato paste, harissa paste, turmeric, paprika, salt, pepper, and pre-heated water. Mix well and bring to a boil.

zwita markat merguez step 3 

Step 4. Once the sauce begins to boil, add in the merguez ovals while being careful not to burn yourself. Gently stir the merguez ovals to mix them up well without breaking them apart. Cover with a lid and allow 15 minutes to cook on medium-low heat.

 zwita markat merguez step 4

Step 5. Uncover the lid, stir the stew a little and bring the heat up to medium. Keep the lid uncovered and allow about 15-20 minutes of simmering time so that the stew can reduce to a desirable consistency.

 zwita markat merguez step 5

Step 6. Once we have achieved a desirable stew consistency, add the pickled olives and vegetables and stir them well into the stew. 

 zwita markat merguez step 6

Step 7. Simmer for about a minute and stir well one last time.

zwita markat merguez step 7

Step 8. Serve and enjoy!

zwita markat merguez

Serves one 🐻 or 👩🏾‍🤝‍👨🏽.