Sandwich de Merguez: French Street-Food at its Best – A Podcast

Download WNF Podcast #2: Sandwich de Merguez

A few summers ago we were very fortunate to spend a long vacation traveling through northern Spain and southwestern France. It was our first real vacation alone since Amy and I had met, and was especially well-deserved because we had spent the previous 12 months going through the traumatic process of immigrating me to the United States and all the crap that goes along with moving to a new country and finding gainful employment. Even now, after ten or more trips overseas in the interim, we still look back on that wonderful trip with great nostalgia. In fact, so formative was it for us and our relationship together, that we might not be so passionate about food (or even have this blog) were it not for having driven those rural highways and byways eating and drinking our way through the small towns of Spain and France. So this post and podcast are a sort of belated paen to the mental tranquility we rediscovered on that trip.

As we planned it, we read-up on destinations en route from Barcelona to Bilbao and decided that Carcassonne should be amongst them. Quite apart from its culinary pedigree of being one of the three towns in that part of France which lay claim to having been the birthplace of the famous pork and bean dish cassoulet, it also, reputedly, has the best Bastille Day firework display anywhere in the country outside Paris. Judge for yourself in the video below.

Bastille Day or Fête de la Fédération (July 14th), is the French equivalent of the American Independence Day, and marks the storming and fall of the Bastille (Paris’ central prison where French political prisoners and fictional characters, including Dumas’ The Man In the Iron Mask were imprisoned) during the French Revolution that signified the ‘birth of the modern French nation’. It’s the biggest national holiday in France with celebrations and demonstrations of fidelity to La Patrimonie all over the country.

However, like many national holidays around the world, in spite of the ostensible patriotism of the day, good food, amazing fireworks and fun, drunk times are the thing that most people focus on. So, to line our stomachs before a night of drinking wine out of the bottle on the street (like everyone else), we, almost like Moses in the wilderness, followed the pillar of smoke towards the heady smell of grilled meat. There we found a lined, toothless, Algerian man, squinting against the smoke and spitting fat of his blackened grill, cooking huge merguez sausages (a spicy North African sausage made with beef or lamb) over hot coals. In exchange for a couple of euros, he nestled a couple of these sausages snugly into a crusty baguette alongside a load of salty, golden french fries, and smeared the whole thing with dijon mustard and ketchup. That’s what I call street food!

Sandwich de Merguez with Fried Leeks and French Fries

The sandwich is exactly what you’d imagine, and after a couple of drinks, it’s even better. The spiciness of the merguez along with the salty, crispy french fries, well, it just doesn’t get any better. We’re not actually going to post a recipe for this one, only a quick pictorial step-by-step below – you’ll have to listen to the podcast for a detailed how to – but anyone with half a brain (and we firmly believe our readers are in possession of somewhat more than that) should be able to make their own sandwich de merguez with ease. As you can see from the photos, we added some fried leeks as a topping in what can only be described as a petty bourgeois touch, which the French revolutionaries of old would certainly have disproved of, but that’s freedom for you, right? In a similarly middle-class stylie (or sans culottes for those of you who’ve fought your way through Baudelaire’s Paris Spleen), we attempted to make our own version of a harissa sauce, combining ketchup, 1 clove of roasted garlic, 1 fire-roasted habanero (yes, the sauce was a f***in’ wildman), and a pinch or less of ground coriander, cumin, mustard powder, black pepper and kosher salt in a food processor, but you could use dijon mustard and ketchup as your condiments, as we did that hallowed night in Carcassonne. Enjoy the sandwich whenever you like, but why not give it a try during the next national holiday wherever you are. After all, you don’t have to be French to appreciate spicy sausages and fries in a crusty roll!

Thanks to Zach at Serious Eats for featuring this sandwich in his weekly Serious Sandwiches column. THANK YOU!

SANDWICH DE MERGUEZ – A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE

1. Grill some merguez sausages on an indoor or outdoor grill.

grilling merguez sausages

2. Thinly slice some leeks.

leeks in flour

3. Toss thinly sliced leeks in 2 tablespoons of flour PLUS 2 tablespoons cornstarch and fry in some veggie oil for about 1 minute.

crispy fried leeks

4. Thinly slice 2 or 3 potatoes.

Cutting potato for french fries

5. Heat up some vegetable oil and double fry your thin-sliced potatoes until golden brown. Allow to drain on some paper towels and sprinkle with salt.

Spicy French Fries

6. In a fresh baguette, brush some dijon and spicy ketchup on each side of the bread. Add your grilled sausages, nestle some french fries between the sausages and the bread and then top with some fried leeks. ENJOY and feel free to keep dipping sandwich in some more mustard and ketchup.

Sandwich de Merguez with Fried Leeks and French Fries

63 thoughts on “Sandwich de Merguez: French Street-Food at its Best – A Podcast

  1. I hate always saying the same thing – “Ooh, yummeh”, “nom nom nom”, “holy frick” – but as usual, you’ve rendered me babbling nonsense. Mama likey.

  2. I used to eat these all the time on my visits to Paris and I’m lucky in that I can buy Merguez at my local Moroccan food store. I also use them when I make cous-cous.

    The sound could be better but it definately sounds like a man AND a woman…

  3. I didn’t see these in Paris but I too have a local source for merguez and am definitely going to try these one day! Maybe with a disposable barbeque in the park?

  4. OMG! My arteries are happily hardening right now at the sight of sausages and french fries on a bun. Yummy. I like the idea of the leeks too.

  5. Thanks for visiting my blog. I’ve read couple of your posts! I especially enjoyed the one about pizzas. I’ve tried to make homemade pizza couple times with okay luck. I may try it again, following your recipe.

  6. This take me back to when I was a student in Paris. Late nights,to much alcohol and cigs, and quick stop to a vendor to get one of these lovelies.Good eating and times.

  7. i’ve always wanted to go to carcassonne – home of the only crusade waged by christians against other christians. because i’m a dorky medievalist like that.

    i’ve also always wanted to eat this sandwich, i just never knew it until today.

  8. That’s funny you stopped by because I stopped by your blog today as well – Laura sent the link! These sandwiches look friggin amazing. I just tried merquez sausages for the first time this week, used for Nigella Lawson’s Peppers, Sausages, and Halloumi dish. While I didn’t like the dish so much, I did love the sausages. I’ll have to try this take on them – can one do carmelized onions on top of the sandwich or is that sacrilege? Do you get Food and Wine? There’s an article in this month’s issue called “The Grilling Genius of Spain” about this guy who runs a restaurant in Axpe, about 45 minutes southeast of Bilbao. Any chance you visited that area in your travels?

    Laura told my husband that she wanted me to come over to her place and drink wine for a few hours. While it wasn’t a formal invitation, I think we should descend on her apartment and make her let us in and we can cook something delectable for her!

  9. Jonny, where are you originally from? I thought you were a Joisey guy.

    On to Merguez, why are such a tasty sausage hard to find? Hmmmm.

    I’m delighted to see you “do fries” right…double-fry, baby!

  10. thanks for the comments, chaps. you’re too kind, as always.

    chris, su-lin, & courtney: I’ve never seen these in Paris, but if you can recommend somewhere, we’ll file that info under “important” for our next trip over there!

    michelle: glad to discover you are a “dorky medievalist”. we like knowing things about our readers! but you are, of course, right, the history of christian on christian persecution is written into the landscape of that part of France with former Cathar strongholds from the albigensian crusade dotting the landscape all over. that reminds me, we should post some of our photos of Peyrepertuse and Montsegur (as well as the rest of our trip) on our photos page.

    Peter: i’m english. my wife is the joisey guy! (just kidding, babe)

  11. My parents lived outside Carcassonne for a year right after they were married. It’s a beautiful town.

    Also, at the risk of sounding like a complete tool, making your own merguez is EASY. And it’s so unbelievably good. I skip the casings and just mold it around sticks for grilling. I even make my own harissa to make the merguez. Again, easy. And it gets you laid. (Even if you’re, say, a dorky Medievalist.)

  12. oh my god… can i be your parents? it is such a beautiful town.

    AND we just got our meat grinder/sausage attachment for our K.A. and I think I’ll use it to make those merguez. have a good recipe for your merguez? and if i get laid from it, i promise i’ll scream out your name during it. you live in brooklyn – i’ll pray you hear it. and your girlfriend/boyfriend/wife hears it too!

  13. The POD cast is remarkable!!!! You guys have a winner here, we must get a bizness plan together over this summer….you will have a show of some sort, we just have to focus….it’s 1 am and I have to go to sleep…LUV YOU!!!

    Hey…its Happy Birthday to my loving daughter, and I was their at your first breath of Phoenixville air….enjoy your special day, we are so proud and love you so much…..Jonny, and a great B Day in advance…luv you guys…..finishing the rabbit podcast…how in the world do u do that stuff? Can I get a transcript for Racheal Ray 2 C.

  14. mmm habanero.

    things that makes me happiest: fireworks and roller coasters
    number 5 on my top 5 favorite foods ever: great sandwiches

    so basically, this post made my night. 😀

    thanks for stopping by my blog as well!

  15. I love reading your posts. They are very informative and do learn quite a bit from them about other cultures and cuisines. This is yet another interesting post. And your sandwich looks great!

  16. Oooh these remind me of french fry-stuffed gyros we used to eat after long nights drinking in Paris. Sooo good, and, as you said, even better a few bars later. Now I’m dying to try one with Merguez – hope I can find some here in New England. If not I guess I’ll just have to go back to France!

  17. ever since i started eating meat again i’ve been dying to try the merguez at my favorite middle eastern place on atlantic. with your gorgeous looking sandwich i think i just may have to!

  18. this is what you call soul food , that goes straight to the ass !!!
    i used to stuff fried in my burgers when i was a kid. havemt done that in ages now. your lovely hotdog, had got me craving some now.

  19. Geez, I am trying to make oatmeal taste appetizing for breakfast while looking at this grub…….it’s not working, that I can tell you.

  20. Ack!! Double Ack!! My computer can’t load this podcast, it’s taking forever! I’m dying here and have to wait till I get to work to listen. There is better reception there….
    Street food sandwiches are the best! We can’t get to Spain anytime soon, so we’ll definitely try your awesome recipe !!

  21. dude… i’m pissed if that podcast is taking too long to load! we just upgraded and bought into a better (supposedly) faster podcasting tool! ah well…

    i wish i could find a way to upgrade our voices (well, mine). ha! chris… you seriously need to help us w/ that! you seem to know more about sound + podcasting than we do. maybe we need to upgrade the dumb microphone we use?

  22. ok – i have the ka grinder too. never used it. i have sausage casings – real hog ones – in the fridge. i wanna make merguez. peter needs to give us some tips…

    but first i so very want this sandwich….

  23. I have lived in Carcassonne for four years now and just love the place. Recently I moved into the house I had built on some land I bought specifically for it’s fabulous view of the castle – this year I shall watch the Bastille Day fireworks from my terrace. Merguez sausages are my favourites – and your sandwich looks amazing!

  24. wow I love your blog! 😀 This recipe looks fantastic – never thought of adding fries to baguette & it’s making me salivate! Thanks for leaving me a comment 🙂

  25. salut Jonny and Amy–wow duel posters to the blog. chouette. thanks for commenting on my blog, yours is pretty classe, now i have another blog to read every morning. you may be the first native english speaking blog though i read–no way! i believe you won me with the raw beef and salivation comment in your about section. yesssss. i can’t eat raw beef anywhere but france. im going to go through withdrawals when i move back to the states-

    keep up the good work- A bientot!

  26. I’ve just come back to Paris after a summer in Paziols (an hour from Carcassonne) where I spent a great deal of time eating exactly these sandwiches. From Bastille Day to neighborly block-party-esque grillades to parties in the town square, merguez sandwiches are everywhere. Looks like you’ve done a pretty good job of recreating it! Love the blog btw…

  27. Yummy!! looks pretty authentic! congratulations!! I am originally from Algeria and I make my own Merguez sausages. I got my secret recipe from a friend that got it from another friend that got it from a butcher in a busy market in Algiers, people come from all over town for his famous Merguez. My husband says that my homemade Merguez is not as good as the one from this butcher but people here are crazy about my Merguez (and my kids too). Ok, your picture here got me all decided to go downtown to get some fresh lamb casings.
    I looooove cooking as well. You website is fantastic.
    Merci!!

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