These small spicy sausages, made of lamb (and sometimes beef as well), dipped in cornmeal batter, and deep fried may remind Americans of that traditional fare of state fairs and rodeos–the Corn Dog.
In fact, a daughter’s liking for the Dog started my search for a homemade version of it, and led to the idea of using Merguez in a way that derives from the all-American hot dog-on-a-stick. Made with Merguez, however, the original becomes diminutive, highly spiced, and suited to good times besides the very enjoyable ones of a bleacher in a grandstand or a carnival fairway.
“There is no new thing under the sun.” Many cooks have, independently, arrived at notions similar to this one of a batter fried sausage. Reinventing the wheel is one of the things at which good cooks excell. Recipes go out of fashion, are temporarily lost, give way to other ideas…then, surface as though for the first time. The pleasure of discovery, sometimes mistaken for invention, is not in the least diminished.
Batter-dipped Fried Merguez (for about 15 small sausages, and the recipe doubles very easily)
- 3/4 cup of milk
- 1/8 cup of vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon of Salt
- 1 Tablespoon of Sugar
- 3/4 cup of Flour and some more on a small plate for coating the sausages before dipping them in the batter
- 1/2 cup of Cornmeal: stoneground is nice
- 1 teaspoon of Baking Powder
- 1/2 pound of small, spicy Merguez sausages: the ones in the photos measure between 2 and 3-inches and make about 15 hors d’oeuvres–longer sausages could be divided into smaller pieces
- oil for deep frying
Optional accompaniment: Dijon coarse-grained mustard, or any other mustard you like, Pickled Grapes, and Cornichons
- bamboo skewers: one for each sausage
- a large bowl
- a whisk
- a pan for frying the sausages before skewering, dipping, and deep-frying them
- a wide, flat-bottomed pan with relatively high sides for the deep-frying
1. In a little oil, slowly fry the sausages over medium heat until they are cooked through (possibly for 7 minutes), drain them, and set them aside:
2. With a whisk, combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl:
3. Add the egg, the milk, and 1/8 cup of oil and whisk them all together:
The consistency of the batter will be of a thickness that releases quickly and steadily from the wires of the whisk:
4. Add several inches of oil to the large pan and begin heating it gradually over medium heat.
5. Pour a little flour on a plate. Put the sausages on skewers (running the skewer half-way into the sausage will keep it fixed in place, but makes eating easier than if it is pushed all the way through). Roll the sausages in the flour:
6. Dip them in the batter:
The batter will cling well because of the flour. There’s no need to hurry transferring the battered sausages to the oil for fear that the batter will run off:
7. Place several skewers in the bowl at one time. The frying will go more smoothly:
8. If you are skilled in using a deep-fry thermometer, use it to judge when the oil is ready: 375 F. Otherwise, guage when it is time to begin frying by sight and touch: the oil will shimmer, a hand placed over it will quickly feel the heat, and a drop of batter will begin to brown (but not instantly color all over) when dropped into it:
9 . Some cooks lay the sausages and sticks down into the oil. But since these Merguez are small, an alternative method is to do 2 at a time without placing the whole stick in the oil: hold one stick in each hand, lower the sausages into the oil and turn them as they fry to brown evenly:
10. Lift them from the oil when they are golden on all sides:
Dijon coarse-grained mustard, Cornichons and the diplomatickitchen’s Pickled Grapes go very well with these Merguez:
And if you are accustomed to cold, white winters, but living temporarily in a tropical land, pleasant company in a sunny garden in the late afternoon, with a plate of these Merguez and an iced glass of beer help reconcile one to the absence of a snowy season:
A Note: A good recipe for the original Corn Dog may be found at livelovepasta.
A Second Note: Batter-dipped Fried Merguez Sausages are included as an hors d’oeuvre in the Lunch Menu: Simply Delicious Combinations.
© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011-2012