At least three or four days before you want to cook the merguez: ask your butcher to mince the lamb and beef coarsely or do it yourself.
Put your casings or the caul to soak either in cold water overnight or in running water for 2 hours.
Toast the cumin, fennel, peppercorns, cloves and nutmeg in a heavy pan over a low heat for 2-3 minutes, then grind to a powder.
Destalk and chop the coriander leaves. Chop the mint. Peel, smash and chop the garlic. Destalk, deseed and finely chop the chillies, if using.
In a large bowl put the meat, garlic, paprika, ground spices, salt and chopped herbs. Spoon in the harissa or chopped chillies and mix thoroughly by hand, squeezing and turning to get even distribution of all the elements. Fry a spoonful of the mixture and taste. Adjust the seasoning as you like.
Fill the casings or spread out a piece of caul and cut it into 7.5 cm/3 in squares. Put a ball of the merguez mixture in the centre and wrap the lacy mesentery around it. If there are any holes or gaps, wrap in another square. Press to flatten slightly and arrange on a tray. Refrigerate for a minimum of 3 days and up to a week to mature before cooking.
You can fry merguez in a pan, but they are best
© 1995 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.