While I’m sure my German ancestors are rolling over in their graves, I gotta say, I’m really not a big fan of sausage. Bratwurst, liverwurst, salami, kielbasa—there’s just something about smelly, phallic-shaped mystery meat that instinctively makes my stomach turn.
But if that mystery meat happens to be infused with an intense blend of Moroccan spices and disguised as a burger, well then, sign me up!
As soon I arrived at Mt. Airy’s new bar and brasserie Goat Hollow, Chef Adam Glickman made sure to dispel any mystery about their Merguez Sausage Sandwich, namely, whether or not it contained any goat meat. After assuring me that the restaurant’s menu was actually 100-percent goat-free, he explained that we’d be making the sausage from a mix of lamb leg, lamb loin and lamb tenderloin.
Having only had a half-cup of coffee in me at that point, I’m glad Adam assigned me the task of measuring our array of seasonings, the combined aroma of which could have easily awoken someone from a coma.
Setting aside the cilantro, garlic and cayenne pepper, we then toasted them on the stove for a few minutes. Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of toasting cayenne pepper. “If that burns, you’ll be running out of here crying,” Adam said.
Though I was secretly hoping that there might be some sort of machine that was going to blend the spices into the meat, once Adam handed me a pair of gloves, I knew I was that machine. And so, like a good student, I rolled up my sleeves and dug into the bowl of lamb bits.
“Just smush it in,” Adam instructed. “Pretend it’s Play-Doh.”
No problem—I’d much rather visualize Play-Doh than Lamb Chop’s limbs and loins. Yet, it wasn’t until I was pressing the meat through a circular, cookie-cutter like contraption to form the perfect patty that the Play-Doh comparison really hit me.
Suddenly, my mind was reeling over all the meat-molding possibilities: I could have star-shaped sausage! Sausage squares! For the holidays, I could serve little sausage snowflakes and snowmen!
In fear of ridicule, I opted to keep these thoughts to myself and tried to come up with a more pertinent question, like whether this sausage would make for good meatballs.
“Oh my God, yes,” Adam says.
Turns out, you’ve got a few different options with Merguez. It can be grilled or pan-seared; cooked medium rare or well-done; made with either beef or lamb (Adam notes that the beef would be “less gamier tasting” than the lamb, whatever the hell that means).
Regardless of what you make the sausage with or how you choose to cook it, Adam stresses that what’s most important is that you allow it to sit for a few minutes “so that the juices get absorbed back in the meat.”
He’s not kidding—there was so much juice, it was literally oozing from the center of the patties like a volcano. Leering at the erupting slabs of meat, I wanted nothing more than to grab a knife and fork and dig in right then and there.
But first, the sandwich had to be topped with two of Adam’s special homemade sauces: Goat mayo (mayo mixed with their special seasoned salt) and a dill-mint yogurt sauce (Greek yogurt mixed with fresh herbs). Note: No goats are milked in the making of their “goat” sauces. If you have a bottle of regular ol’ Hellman’s in your fridge, that’ll do, too.
Finally, after what felt like three hours, I found myself inside the restaurant’s industrial-chic upstairs dining room with Lamb Chop in my mitts. As I chowed down, there was only one thing going through my mind: Ho-ly shit. I seriously didn’t know whether to eat the sandwich or bow down and pray to it. Given that there were about 30 different flavors hitting my palate with each bite, I really couldn’t decipher which ones were from the sauces or from the sausage itself. But there was certainly no missing the paprika or cayenne.
Having come with a side of the restaurant’s exceptional pomme frites and goat remoulade dip, I was shoveling them into my mouth by the handful just to soothe my taste buds. They were also the kind of fries that are so good, you can’t help but eat them like a ravenous beast—ya know, like movie theater popcorn.
While I can’t say that I’ve been suddenly moved to eat Bratwurst—or to even snap into a Slim Jim, for that matter—the experience definitely taught me a few things. For starters, I really need to try some more Mediterranean cuisine. I’ve also come to realize that it might be time for me to spice up my spice collection, which currently only includes salt, pepper and oregano.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I learned that playing with ground meat can be fun.
Dinner with Luke Palladino