Grilling can be scary. I understand. You bought an expensive piece of meat, you don’t want to burn it, but you don’t want it to be completely raw (for reasons I don’t actually understand. As long as my meat is hot, it’s done.)
SO! Here are a few tips before the grilling season officially gets underway.
1. Directly over the flame is not always the best method of grilling. But, Tim! That’s where the heat is! Yes, it is. It is also where the flame is not. The closer to the flame, the higher the heat. You can experience this phenomenon quite easily by lighting a match and letting it burn all the way to your fingers. (Don’t actually do this.) Indirect grilling is usually best. I’ll go over indirect grilling later.
2. Know the fat! If you have a lean piece of meat, it will cook much faster than a fatter piece.
3. Pork DOES NOT HAVE TO BE WELL DONE. People often complain about dry pork chops. It’s already dead, you don’t have to kill it. Trichinosis isn’t really a thing anymore. According to Wikipedia, there were an average of 11 cases/year from 2002-2007. I’ll take my chances to have a delicious pork chop.
My preferred method of grilling is natural wood charcoal. It takes longer, certainly, but the reward is so much greater. After natural wood charcoal, I’d use regular charcoal. Gas is my least favorite. I just don’t care for the flavor it imparts on the meat.
Indirect grilling. It’s easy. Don’t be afraid. Buy a nice thick piece of meat (at least 3/4 of an inch thick). Place the meat directly over the flame for 30 seconds to a minute on each side. Move the meat to a cooler area of the grill, away from the flame, and give it about 3-4 minutes/side for mid rare. Up the time to your desired state. Enjoy!
While I was working with Austin (the Fishmonger) at Rubiner’s Cheesemongers and Grocers in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, I discovered a lamb sausage called merguez. Shop proprietor Matthew Rubiner purchased the sausage from Jamison Farm in Pennsylvania. We grilled the sausages to order for service in the cafe and served them simply, on a baguette with a harissa paste. Gorgeous, simple, unique. After leaving Rubiner’s, I longed for these delicate, bright red, aromatic French tid bits. I looked up recipes online, found a few that I thought sounded right, combined them and birthed my own.
Before beginning my journey to making merguez, I wanted to know where it came from. Knowing the roots of your food (so to speak) can greatly aid you in creating a recipe. You wouldn’t add star anise to a traditional bratwurst, for example, because star anise isn’t exactly native to the region in which the first bratwurst were made. The problem with merguez is…it’s complicated. It is North African in origin, specifically, it seems, from Tunisia, but today is widely regarded as a French sausage. I suppose it isn’t too hard to understand how this happened, as it’s only the Balearic Sea separating the two countries…and occupiers tend to make traditional, regional delicacies their own (Tunisia was a French protectorate from the mid 1800s until the 1950s).
Having origins in Tunisia, the flavors of merguez are more easily recognized. Highly spiced with cinnamon, harissa, fennel, garlic, etc, merguez is a sausage unlike any other. The piquancy of the sausage set it apart from anything you’ve ever had. It is truly a full mouth experience. The delicate lamb meat lends itself perfectly to the soaring notes of cinnamon, the sweetness of fennel, the heat of harissa. It is a unique experience that I guarantee you will enjoy.
Yes, Whole Foods has it. Jamison Farm has it. But mine is better.