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 meatballs are skinless versions of the longer and thinner merguez sausage links that are often barbecued or pan fried. 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 and lamb.
In a bowl, add the fennel, turmeric, paprika, salt, pepper, minced garlic, harissa paste, and olive oil to the ground beef and ground lamb. Mix it all well with your hands until all ingredients are well incorporated into the ground meat.
With your hands, take small amounts of the ground meat mixture and pack them into small ovals (2 inches long, 1 inch wide).
In a pot, add the olive oil and set the heat to medium. Add the tomato paste, harissa paste, turmeric, paprika, salt, pepper, and 2 cups of pre-heated water. Mix well and bring to a boil.
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.
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.
Once we have achieved a desirable stew consistency, add the pickled olives and vegetables and stir them well into the stew.
Simmer for about a minute and stir well one last time.
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