French Fridays: Spiced meatballs with harissa mayo from My Paris Kitchen

Spiced meatballs with harissa mayo from My Paris Kitchen on eatlivetravelwrite.comWe are big fans of merguez (spiced lamb sausage) in this household so were happy to see a homemade version for this week’s Cook the Book Fridays recipe from David Lebovitz’ My Paris Kitchen. As a friend of David’s says, “you’re not Parisian until you’ve had a merguez sandwich, stuffed with sausage and frites at 3am… eaten on the sidewalk.” When I lived in Paris (and when I was much younger and able to stay awake until 3am) there were, indeed, merguez sandwiches enjoyed on my way home after a night out but most recently, merguez is something we buy often when we are in France simply because it’s not so common to find here and we love it so much.

David’s recipe calls for lamb or beef or a combination of both – I was thrilled to find ground lamb at our local butcher so I went with just lamb which we formed into meatballs and some burger patties.  Because it was so hot the weekend we were making these, I just didn’t want to heat up the kitchen by pan-frying the meatballs or oven-baking them so we popped both the burgers and the meatballs on the barbecue. A couple of notes:

  1. Watch these carefully on a barbecue – ours were a *tad* overdone.
  2. These shrunk a lot so the burgers ended up being more like the rissoles I used to enjoy as a child – less burger-like but still very delicious.
  3. Make sure your lamb is not too lean. My memories of merguez in France are that they are deliciously tasty because they are a little bit fatty. Our lamb was a little too lean for these, so with the combination of the fast cooking on the barbecue, they were a bit dry…
  4. The harissa mayo is a revelation. Not rocket science so I wondered why I had not thought of this before.
  5. Old harissa might not pack the punch you are expecting. Taste it before you use it to see how much you can add to both the meat and the mayo. We used two different brands – one newer than the other – and the new jar was much spicier than the older one (we are trying to use up the pantry so I refused to open the new one until the old one was gone!).

Spiced lamb burgers with harissa mayo from My Paris KitchenWe enjoyed the “burgers” both as burgers, in buns but also with some salads I am testing for my upcoming cookbook. I’ll definitely make these again and will try oven-baking the meatballs and also seek out a less lean lamb. But the flavours in this weeks’ recipe certainly worked really well. And that harissa mayo? Going on everything!

Get the recipe for David Lebovitz’ spiced meatballs with sriracha sauce here or on p74 of My Paris Kitchen.


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Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of “My Paris Kitchen” for review purposes. I was not asked to write about the book, nor am I being compensated for doing do. All opinions 100% my own.


25 thoughts on “French Fridays: Spiced meatballs with harissa mayo from My Paris Kitchen”

  1. We really enjoyed these, a little different from the norm, but that’s good. I only used beef, but I am
    going to search for some chopped lamb next time. Yours look so tender and nicely browned.

  2. Loved the meatballs, and I like your idea of making them into burgers. Loved the hot mayo too. We made swordfish sliders tonight and slathered it on them.
    Toronto deserves it’s own trip rather than combined with Quebec. I’ll definitely let you know when we plan that trip so we can get together again. I think you were still in France while were in Canada, so I would have missed you anyway.

    • For sure there are many different harissas but with ANY hot sauce I would suggest tasting before you use. I like harissa better than sriracha for something like this as I think it gives more depth of flavour but I might try with sriracha to see what I think too!

  3. These were astoundingly good. A little miler than I’m used to for merguez – but with the harissa mayo, delightful.

    And yes, I’d probably blend a 2/3 lamb 1/3 beef mixture next time, to add a bit of fat.

    Mardi’s right re the mayo, though: this will become something we use on other dishes. Heat, but subdued. The meatballs and salads were a great lunch treat, easily warmed up in the microwave, and dipped in the mayo.

    Ahh, the memories of just dipping fresh bread in oil and harissa in North Africa. 🙂

  4. I used lamb with the fat “all in”, so to speak, and the meatballs were delicious. I erred on the less done rather than overcook them and let them cook off a minute or so after taking out of the oven. It’s cooled off here in the mountains so a little oven heat is nice. Those too salads look tasty. I assume the couscous salad (that was the grain, wasn’t it?) was cold. Looks delicious. Grated carrots. So French. Excited about your cookbook.

    • Yes I can’t wait to try these in the oven – think it’s a much better way to cook them. Yes, that’s a couscous “tabbouleh” and grated carrots – so very quintessentially French for kids 🙂

  5. The moose mince I used for the meatballs was extremely lean – I solved that with a dollop of bacon fat, which also added a touch more smokiness. Overall, I really enjoyed both the meatballs and the mayo. I’d love to try it with lamb, though – that sounds wonderful. I especially like that you served it with salads. It makes for such a well-rounded meal.

    • Interesting that you used pork – I’ve no doubt it would be tasty because of the higher fat content. I think I will try a more traditional mix of beef/ lamb next time I try these. But that mayo is definitely going into my “regular rotation” – so good!

  6. I’m definitely going to try it with harissa next time! And I agree, when I saw the ingredients for the mayo I chuckled. That said, I made a last-minute version of this dish with some non-lean lamb for a party last night and the ease of making the dip (and the meatballs) was great!

    Gorgeous photos as always, Mardi, and thanks for the tips on grilling them!

  7. Your versions all look great! I’d never had the sausage before, so all new to me, but what a delightful find! I made mine with lamb, baked them, and only made the Sriracha sauce, but it was great reading about and seeing all of your options and suggestions! AND, all while editing your cookbook! Well done!


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