One of the marks of a great chef is that they always taste a dish to make sure the flavors are right before sending it out to a diner’s table. And so will you, Mr. Meat Club Man, in order to taste that your meat is spot-on just before sheathing it, so to speak.
Once the lamb shoulder and pork belly have been chopped and ground, the lemons zested, the mint plucked and cut, the sumac, harissa, and kosher salt mixed in, and the Merguez is ready for stuffing, that’s when the fun begins - the tasting.
This is the time where we taste our fine creation, to make sure we’ve added all of the necessary spices, catch that we forgot to add the salt the first time around, or determine that we need to dial up the heat with an extra teaspoon of crushed red chili flakes. Once we’ve tweaked it to our liking, we’re ready to proceed.
For most of our meat mixtures, we’ll use keep it simple and sauté it up. Place a skillet on the stove on medium-high heat, and add a little oil to prevent the meat from sticking. Form a small patty of meat, and cook it in the pan until it reaches a temperature of 150°F / 65°C. Remove it from the heat, let it cool a bit, and then give it a proper oral inspection.
The quenelle method is used for testing emulsified meats, like a Hot Dog, or meats that you may prefer to prepare in simmering water, like a Bratwurst, to give you a better idea of how they’ll turn out after they’re stuffed.
Heat a pan of water until it’s just about to simmer, to about 170°F / 75°C. Take a small handful of meat, roll it up into a thumb-sized log, and wrap it in plastic wrap. Tie each end of the plastic wrap with butcher string. Drop in the plastic-wrapped log, and allow it to heat up until a meat thermometer inserted through the plastic into the meat measures its internal temperature at 150°F / 65°C. Pull the log out of the water, unwrap it, and give it a taste.
If you’ve over-salted or over-spiced your meat, the only way to course-correct is to add more meat. We’ve been known to do that from time-to-time, but rather than seeing it as a mistake, we like to think of it as a bonus, because we get a couple extra pounds of sausage out of the deal. It's hard not to be glass-is-half-full about every damn thing while at meat club.