Maybe chili-spiked lamb sausage—better known as Merguez, a north African specialty—isn't the most patriotic thing to grill on July 4th. Your neighbors will be out there with their all-beef patties and Oscar Meyer hot dogs, looking over the fence. But the way I see it, high levels of deliciousness trumps all—and this sandwich passes the test with gusto.
The key is using a good crusty baguette, which also gets charred on the grill, making it taste fresh out of oven all over again. A quick cucumber, onion, and tomato condiment salad adds crunch, and there are two sauces to choose from: harissa, which can be store bought or blended up easily, and cumin-spiked mayonnaise (but call it cumin aioli for more raised eyebrows). The harissa is for spicier palates, while the aioli is a bit milder but still very flavorful.
D'Artagnan makes an excellent merguez sausage which is quite mild; you might also find them at a local farmer's market.
- For the sandwich
- 1 baguette, cut into 4 lengths and sliced lengthwise
- 1 pound merguez sausages
- For the condiment salad
- 1/2 English cucumber, chopped
- 1 handful cherry tomatoes, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- olive oil
- red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper
- For the harissa (optional)
- 5 dried red chilies, soaked in boiling water until soft
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup walnuts (optional)
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (optional)
- For the cumin aioli (optional)
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- Cumin, to taste
Combine the cucumber, tomatoes, and onions in a bowl. Add olive oil to moisten and season with salt and pepper. Splash in red wine vinegar to taste.
Prepare the harissa by blending all the ingredients in a food processor; prepare the cumin aioli by whisking the cumin into the mayonnaise until it tastes right.
Grill the merguez sausages (keeping in mind that it's okay to slightly undercook lamb) and add the baguette pieces towards the end.
Construct sandwiches and serve.