The perfect grilled sausage! Photo by Steven Depolo
Grilling sausages perfectly can be a tricky endeavor, but it’s an essential skill that all grill lovers should have. The versatile and delicious sausage must be treated with care and respect, finding the perfect balance between heat, fire and timing. Too much fire and you end up with a charred, shrunken and unappetizing lump of coal; cook it too long, and the sausage will dry up; cook it toolittle, and it will not only be raw, but also mushy. The perfect grilled sausage should have a nice char, a crispy skin, loads of juiciness and be cooked throughout.
Impossible? Never! We give you the top three tried-and-true methods for grilling sausages perfectly, every single time, so you'll be ready come grilling season.
GRILLING SAUSAGES: THE TECHNIQUES
There are several methods to getting a sausage to grill perfectly, so take note and sharpen your grill skills.
METHOD 1: Straight-Up Grilling
Grilling over moderate fire is the most straightforward method for grilling sausages.
Perfect char marks. Photo by: Didriks
What you'll need: a grill, a food thermometer, patience
How to do it: follow the two-zone fire method by dividing your grill into two sections, one hotter than the other (you control this by the amount of coals on each side). Place the sausages over moderate fire, and using food thermometer, test the temperature of the sausages until it comes up to 150 degrees F, and the exterior is nicely browned.
What to look out for: overcooking - make sure your heat is not too strong, or you'll end up with a burnt coal. Also, flare-ups are common due to the fat content of sausages.
METHOD 2: Poach, then Grill
This time-honored method is followed by grilling devotees around the world.
Grilling sausage tip: poach before grilling. Photo by: Austin Keys
What you'll need: cold water, stove, pan, food thermometer.
How to do it: in a large saucepan, add the sausages and cover with cold water, and bring to boil over low heat. Test the internal temperature of one of the sausages with a probe thermometer - when it reaches 150 F, take them out and place them on the grill to finish cooking.
What to look out for: while this is a fairly fool-proof method, because you're not grilling the sausage for that long - just enough to get the browning and charring - you won't get a ton of smoky grill flavor.
METHOD 3: The Beer (or Wine) Hot Tub - OUR FAVORITE
Poaching or simmering the sausage in a beer, wine or sauce will reduce cooking time and add spectacular flavor.
Delicious sausages simmering in a bath of beer and spices. Photo by: J. Kenji López-Alt
What you'll need: a disposable aluminum pan (if you're doing it directly on the grill) or a large saucepan (if you're doing this on the stovetop), food thermometer, water or liquid ingredient of your choice (beer, stock, wine), and any other ingredients or seasoning you want (onions, peppers, spices, etc.).
How to do it: place the sausages in the pan and cover with the cold liquid and/or other ingredients, and place it over a hot fire to bring it to a simmer. Once it starts simmering, move it to a low-heat section of the grill (or lower the stove fire), and cook slowly. When the sausage has reached the 150 F (test using a food thermometer), it's done and can be transferred to the grill for the final char. For more on this method, visit this step-by-step grilling sausage guide the food-loving folks at Serious Eats.
What to look out for: make sure that you don't boil the liquid, which will cause it to evaporate. If you lose some fluid, make sure you replace it.
GRILLING SAUSAGES BONUS TIPS:
- Before you even start grilling (or poaching), let sausages come to room temperature. They'll cook much faster.
- After the sausages have reached the final temperature (150-160 F), let them rest in a warm place (the edge of the grill, for example, or a hot plate) for about 5 to 10 minutes, so the juices have a chance to settle. If you cut or bite into it directly, you'll lose a lot of moisture. Warning: if the meat is pink, put the sausage back on the grill, it's raw.
Finally, here’s a video on how to barbecue a Curly Q Sausage:
Get that grill fired up! We've got great sausages to serve up this Memorial Day!
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