Best method to "cook" fresh sausages - Italian, Polish, Bratwurst, etc.
A few days ago I queried the board on the appropriateness of boiling sausages in beer, especially when kids are to be served. The response was generally that it was fine, that the alcohol would evaporate and not cause any problems for youngsters.
I guess the broader question is...do you have favorite cooking methods for fresh sausages? I just picked up some great homemade fresh polish sausage (not smoked) and my typical method to cook this is to boil it for 45 min to an hour. When I make bratwurst or italian sausage, it's usually just grilled outside.
I'd be interested in other's methods to cook the best tasting sausages I can. I've heard just boiling in water cooks them but the flavor escapes and they turn out "too soft" while just grilling chars the outside too much before the sausage is really "done".
I cook my fresh sausages by browning in a pan on the stove top. Once they develop a good crust and some fond on the pan I flip and try to position the sausage to parts of the pan not covered with fond. Then I deglaze with a little stock or some water, then cover and let them steam till cooked through. With polish sausages I toss in some sliced onion and caraway seeds right before I cover the pan.
Try cooking them with about a quarter inch of water in the bottom of a covered pan. After about 15 minutes, remove the lid and let the water evaporate and the sausages brown, turning occasionally, in the fat that has oozed out. I don't think it would ever take 45 minutes. I would imagine you would lose most flavor in that length of time.
I'm with wally's bit'o water suggestion- it works great with just about every sausage.
There are some sausages (large English/Irish/Un-pronouncable German sausages) that I have put into a 325 oven until the juices run clear when pierced - can be as long as 30 even 45 minutes- I like beef kielbasa and andouille this way, too.
As for Polish- I must say I prefer the smoked variety and because they are basically cooked, I'm a big fan of just grilling (or scoring and grilling, or splitting and grilling). As for the Bratwurst- beer boiling is definitely preferred in these parts-- a nice beer boil with a couple of cloves & peppercorns and a sliced onion- then give 'em a quick score and onto the grill!
As with any food- liquid braising is almost always a good choice, but water is boring when you can use a more flavorful liquid... sausages are great because they're so full of herb, spices, seasonings, and of course fat, they flavor every liquid.
BTW- I've lived in chicago more than 25 years and this summer I had my first deepfried Polish- it wasn't bad!
This is SOP for chaurice and other fresh (nonsmoked) cajun sausages...at the end, pour off most of the fat and toss in leftover cubed boiled potatoes or cooked rice and a handful of chopped green onions from the garden...basic home cooking in cajun country (no wonder that south Louisiana has some of the highest rates of heart disease in the nation).
But I really prefer grilling for the nice crispy results. On my gas grill, I start out at medium temp, indirect, puncturing the casings on the top & sides, and turning when the topsides are beginning to look "cooked". Poke a few more holes in 'em...once the sausages are no longer boiling out copious amounts of liquid/fat, crank the heat up to high for a quick crisping. (Starting out with indirect heat prevents the initial burst of fatty drippings from flaming up.) Note: the hole-poking is necessary with high-fat pork sausages, or the skins will split resulting in ugly sausages.
I'm partial to lightly coating them in olive oil and broiling them on the bottom rack in the oven.
for brats and fresh italians, i love a combination of a couple of the methods mentioned above. steam in a mixture of beer, mustard seeds, onion, garlic, and other aromatics (spices, herbs, etc.) and then finish on a hot hot grill... juicy inside, seared and crunchy on the outside. derishus.
Yes, I think brats should definitely be steamed in beer (never tried adding the mustard seeds, etc., but I will next time!) and then finished on the grill. This is the traditional method, as far as I know, and the results are great. Plus it makes it easy when you have guests b/c you can steam the brats ahead of time and then just finish them on the grill, plus the risk of burning the sausages before they cook through is avoided.