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How to Properly Cook a Sausage?

Hello, all-

I've just recently bought a bunch of grass-fed, organically raised meat straight from the ranch, and there are some beautiful fresh sausages in the lot. Someone had recently mentioned to me that sausages should NEVER be pan cooked, ONLY baked in an oven to get the best flavor. I'm not sure if I should trust my source; what do you all have to say about it? How should I cook them to get the best flavor out of them?

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Poaching in beer (simmering beer) and grilled - OMG heavenly. Just gotta keep the heat down (medium/low) and turn them often so the skins don't break open.
    I do the beer treatment and then grill them slowly in my cast iron pan when the weather says I should not be standing in front of the outdoor grill.
    I wouldn't bake them, unless they were sliced and combined with a veg/potato or similar combination that I might brush with oil and bake together as a main dish for dinner.

    1 Reply
    1. re: todao

      Thanks loads. I did end up simmering them in just water, because I wanted to get the full flavor of the grass-fed pork (which is much stronger and meatier than conventional meat). They turned out beautifully, although they did take a good while to cook. Went beautifully with my rotini with black chard pesto (another great recipe!).

      Next time, I'll get adventurous and try the beer!

    2. I always pan fry my sausage, but with a twist. Pan fry it until you have it nice and browned. Then, reduce heat to medium. Add a couple tbs of water, cover and cook until done. If you don't add the water, the sausage won't cook all the way through, and you'll end up with sausage burnt on the outside and raw on the inside.

      Of course, with all that brown goodness at the bottom, you're pretty much obliged to make a sauce. If it's breakfast sausage, I do sawmill gravy. If it's dinner sausage, I'll toss in some olive oil and some frozen corn to make a very tasty side.

      7 Replies
      1. re: drig23

        Interesting because I was told to add the water when you put the raw sausages in the pan, cover and simmer until the water evaporates and then turn up the heat and brown... I guess either way, you're doing the same thing. But what I have noticed is that the sausages kind of balloon up and when you pierce them, they geyser!!!

        1. re: janetms383

          Easy trick. I add about 1/2" water plus a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and then simmer on medium. The water will evaporate and then you are left will a little oil to coat the sausages and brown nicely. 1 pan easy, they steam and simmer and then nicely brown. You can use beer as well for this which I do often. I never bake unless I am doing a casserole. This way they can brown and done but not dry. I use the beer and grill method too.

          1. re: janetms383

            The "geyser" affect is one of the more wonderful experiences in eating sausage. If they're fully cooked and the skins are intact (OMG it'd be a sin to break the skin in the cooking process) the juices will squirt with the first touch of the eating utensil. Now THAT'S a properly cooked sausage.

            1. re: todao

              I never break the skins. Then just get toasty brown and then gooosh!! I just get them nice and browned and then presto. I love it too!! The best.

            2. re: janetms383

              I do the same poach and fry, but I don't increase the heat when the liquids evaporate. You can use any number of liquids to poach them.

            3. re: drig23

              I do it the opposite way. Place sausage(s) in the pan with a little water, turn the heat up and place the lid on. I've always assumed that having the lid on lets the sausage cook more evenly from bottom to top. Maybe it's an unecessary step. Let cook for a few minutes, then remove lid and allow water to evaporate. Towards the end, when the water disappears, the sausage will get nice and brown.

              I like kchurch's addition of oil. I'll try that next time.

              1. re: Agent Orange

                Pretty much save philosophy. The oil just gets them brown at the end. Either or they work great, steam cook and then brown. Grilling is good too, but I usually simmer is beer first. Sausage and beer ... what could be wrong with that?

            4. I usually do Italian Sweet Sausages in the oven, but other thick sausages like Brats get a quick par-boil on the stovepot before I pan-fry them. Breakfast sausages, I skip the par-boil and just keep turning them as I pan-fry.

              Whatever sausage I cook, I never pierce them...I want juicy sausages, otherwise what's the point?

              For a new style of sausage I'd be trying for the first time, I'd try cooking them both ways and see for myself which is best.

              1. When we get sausages (italian hot, italian sweet, kielbasa, etc.) in our meat share from the farm, we always just grill them. I never even parboil them first. I do prick them a couple of times with a fork though. I know that's sacrelige to some, but they stay very juicy and don't explode. I especially like this recipe with the balsalmic peppers and onions (does not overwhelm the sausage flavor at all).
                http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                1. There are all different ways of cooking sausages. Most sausages grill nicely, if you've got access to a grill, which I don't these days. I think that carmelizing the skin brings out a good flavor from most sausages, though in some contexts, I could imagine just boiling or baking.

                  Italian and similar raw pork sausages I tend to poach in a pan with water, and if they're fatty, I do prick them so some of the fat cooks out, pour off the water, then brown in the pan with a little olive oil if necessary or under the broiler.

                  Some sausages are precooked, like most bratwurst, frankfurters, knackwurst, a lot of the specialty sausages from Aidell's and the like that come packed in plastic like hot dogs, and they can just be grilled, broiled or pan fried.

                  Kiełbasa, fresh and smoked, is good grilled, but a nice way to broil it is to score it deeply in a criss-cross pattern, so there's more surface to brown. See if you can find it from a good Polish butcher, who might sell ten, twenty or even more types of kiełbasa and smoked hams, and avoid the supermarket stuff that's loaded with corn syrup.

                  And then some sausages I use in other things, so they may get poached, cut, sauteed, stewed, baked or whatever the dish demands.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                    My parents get organic, grass-fed pork and sheep sausages from a meat CSA they belong to, and whenever I come by (I looove a good sausage) they'll throw one on the grill for dinner. Even in the dead of winter in upstate NY - my dad loves his grill about as much as I love those sausages. Man, those things are good. At home in NYC I usually pan fry as above in cast iron, but only for lack of a backyard.