These are those beauties I bought from my new neighborhood candy ... err i mean butcher shop, A CUT ABOVE "NATURAL MEATS. A few days back, I posted about This terrific store that sells fresh ground, all natural sausages. I had selected a CHEERY/CHIPOTLE sausage to serve to my guests during our Neighborhood COOKIE & BEER EXCHANGE PARTY - Sausages/Beer Cheese Soup and Cookies!
These sausages were just a little bit spicy, and at the same time, the cherries added a surprise sweetness to the meat. I was excited to not only eat them, but also to find the best way to grill up the PERFECT SAUSAGE.
First, briefly, what is a sausage??? A sausage is a food from ground meat, flavored with herbs and spices. Typically the sausage is formed in a casing. They can be bought and served raw, like a salami; or sold pre-cooked, like a classic hot dog (yeap, the dog is a sausage); or sold raw, and need to be cooked... Like your generic Johnsonville brat, or in this case, the fresh ground sausages you should look for in your neighborhood meat market.
On the surface, could not possibly be easier to grill a raw sausage... get a fire, when they turn black, they are done. But, in fact there are three issues to be dealt with when grilling sausages.
- The dripping fat from the cooking sausages make flare ups on a grill almost a guarantee. Be sure not to have your grill so full that you do not have a safe area to move the sausages. If you are using a charcoal grill, it is also a good idea to have a spray bottle of water handy to douse the potential inferno. Grilling sausages is not something you can multi-task. Stay at the grill, tongs handy and turn often. Surest way to ruin a great batch of sausages is to run into the house for "just a second" while your sausages are grilling.
- Steam will build up inside the sausage. If you don't provide a place for it to release, your casing will split and explode. You do not want to serve a sausage with a split in the side. ALL of the juices will escape, and your sausage will be dry, and lose a great deal of the flavor.
- The casing will burn or char faster than the meat inside the casing. It is a test of griller skill to cook a raw sausage through, without serving a charred and blackened casing. You want the pretty grill marks, but you do not want a burnt crunchy exterior. Harder than it sounds.
In your large heavy frying pan, cut up an onion, slice it, break up the rings and layer the bottom of the pan. Place your sausages on top of the onions. Fill the pan with your beer of choice, covering at least half of the sausage. Me, I am a Killian's Irish Red man!!!
Take a needle and prick the casing in a half dozen places prior to braising the sausages. These small holes will allow the steam to escape, without making such a large hole that the casing splits during cooking.
Poaching the sausages will partially cook them. Poach them in gently simmering beer for 3 minutes, turn, trying to put them back on top of the onion so that the sausages are not in direct contact with the HOT pan. You want them poached, not scorched. Having a bed of onion protects the casing from burning. Continue poaching for another 2 minutes.
OK, at this point you have a few choices...
- Plan to serve poached sausages. No need to grill, just continue cooking in the simmering beer for about 15 minutes total. In this case, you are cooking to temperature more than color. Internal temperature at the center of the sausage must be 160-165 degrees for it to be safely cooked.
- Break out your George Foreman grill, your grill pan or an electric skillet, and grill inside for 7 minutes on the high setting. Keep those tongs handy, and continue turning till they look done... Again, 160-165 internal temperature. You could bake them, or even broil them.
- But really, where is the fun in that??? Sausages are meant to be cooked as god intended em to be... on the grill! Put on a coat, wear your bunny slippers to keep your feet warm and head outside... The grill will get plenty hot enough, even in sub-freezing temperatures.
And, there you go... These were perfect in every way. Plenty juicy, cooked through, without being charred on the outside. I was very pleased with the sausage I selected (the candy store had a dozen different choices). The chipotle certainly added a tang to the meat, and that spice was obvious. Less obvious was the hint of cherry in the flavor. The sweetness of the cherries made this a memorable... dare I say, A CUT ABOVE the flavor of a prepackaged mass market produced sausage. I served these for a neighborhood party. Certainly a time like that is a reason to hunt down quality product. Finding a well stocked meat department, or specialty butcher shop and spending the extra time to get the cooking process right will make for a memorable meal. Well worth the effort! You can use this same technique to cook a Johnsonville brat, or hunt down a shop that offers a choice of several differently spiced sausage wrapped in a casing.
Now, when I say perfect, of course, it is only slightly an exaggeration. Some people prefer a braised sausage without the slight crunch of a grilled sausage. And, of course low and slow smoke cookers will swear that the extra smoke flavor and the low and slow technique will produce perfect product. But, whether you are cooking brats for the Super Bowl party, or hot dogs for the kids, these simple techniques will make you a better griller.
It's been a while since I got back to my cook through book project. Long time readers know that i have a goal of cooking every recipe in the STEVEN RAICHLEN book, HOW TO GRILL. This recipe/grilling technique can be found on page 148 of Steven Raichlen's amazing grill guide, HOW TO GRILL. The book includes three pages of detailed instructions, including lots of photographs and a simple easy to follow recipe. Click HERE to go to Amazon.com and read other people's reviews or to order. I just found out they have discounted the price, new copies are available for less than $14 and
used copies for less than $4!
Steven's book provided these useful tips on getting the best results from your efforts...
It's not to late to get this guide delivered in time for Christmas ...New year's party, Super bowl party, Arbor day party, spring grilling season, summer grilling season, fall grilling season... It is truely the gift that will keep on giving! Amazon has a great track record for on time delivery... but HURRY!!!