Grill the Perfect Sausage
Every family and group of friends has its resident grillmaster. Do you claim that title among your circle, or does someone else wear the crown? If you’re looking to improve your grilling skills and claim this ultimate summer title, some practice is in order. After all, you can’t become a champion griller without putting in a little time and effort.
Grilling might seem like an intimidating prospect, especially if it’s something you haven’t done much. It’s simple in theory — put the meat on the grill and turn it every so often — but it’s a bit more complicated in practice. Sometimes, it can even seem like there is an entire rulebook of do’s and don’ts every grillmaster knows that you somehow missed out on.
If this is how you’re feeling, don’t worry. We want to help you become the master griller you were always destined to be. Today, we’re going to be discussing tips for grilling sausage. By the time you’re finished reading this, you’ll be ready to break out the grill and whip up some of the most delicious sausages of your life.
Let’s take this step by step.
Step One: Preparations
Before your sausage even makes it onto the grill, there’s plenty to do regarding preparations. While this might not seem like the most crucial stage, you won’t want to underestimate the importance of what goes on in this preliminary stage. During this time, the things you do will either set you up for failure or help launch you into a phenomenal grilling session.
If it helps, think of this stage as setting the tone for the rest of your grilling. If you make sure to set up everything from the get-go, you have fewer things to worry about down the road. If, on the other hand, you dive right in with no thought to proper planning, it’s likely you’ll run into a few extra stumbling blocks along the way.
1. Choose Your Heat Source
The two types of grills you’ll likely find yourself deciding between are gas and charcoal. Everyone has their favorite, and if you’re already a dedicated member of one team or another, feel free to continue with your preferred method. If you’re new to the grilling scene, however, and just making this choice for the first time, it’s not a bad idea to weigh your decision carefully.
Charcoal has its advantages, but when it comes to grilling sausage, there is a good reason to opt for gas. While charcoal burns brightly and gets the job done efficiently, it doesn’t always allow the griller the finest amount of control. Gas, on the other hand, lets you decide exactly how much heat you want at any given time, allowing for greater precision during the grilling process.
2. Clean Your Grill
Nobody wants to eat sausage that came off a dirty grill. Before you start grilling, take out a grill brush and scrub off any dirt, charcoal or crusted-on food from your last grilling session. Not only will those things potentially affect the taste of your sausage, but they might also burn, throwing off your carefully regulated temperature.
3. Bring Your Sausage to Room Temperature
Maybe you’re cooking frozen sausage you purchased from the grocery store, or perhaps you’re cooking something fresh from the butcher’s. Whichever it is, the principle is the same. Before you can grill it correctly, your sausage must arrive at room temperature. If you’re working with frozen meat, you’ll need to thaw it. Complete this process step by step by moving the meat from the freezer to the refrigerator, perhaps the night before you plan to grill it. The following day, you might set the meat out on the counter to allow it to defrost gradually.
4. Don’t Break the Casing
The sausage casings exist for a reason. They’re there to keep all the delicious juices, spices and flavors contained. When you break the casing or even score it, you’re letting all this escape. Of course, this tip applies mainly to fresh sausage.
Step Two: Start Grilling
Once you’ve got your preparations in order, it’s time to get started on the main event — the grilling itself. Of course, this is easier said than done. Here are some handy tips and guidelines to help you grill the perfect sausage.
1. Be Careful With the Temperature
If you’re used to grilling hamburgers or steak, grilling sausage might be a bit of an adjustment. With these other meats, the goal is often to turn the heat up high and sear the outside. Sausage takes a different approach. Here, you’ll have better success when you use low to medium heat. The goal of this approach is to bring the internal temperature up slowly until you have fully cooked it through.
If you’re cooking raw sausage, the ideal temperature is around 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If the heat is any higher than this, the juices will drip out of the sausage, resulting in a final product that’s overall drier and less tasty.
2. Avoid Charring
As we mentioned, you may be accustomed to cooking burgers, where you can easily get away with charring the outside and creating that crispy, blackened exterior. That is not what you’re looking for when it comes to sausage, however. Here, the goal is caramelization, as opposed to charring.
If the outside of your sausage is turning black, you have the heat too high. Instead, you’re looking for the skin to slowly turn a deep brown. By doing this, you won’t just be avoiding a heavy soot taste. You’ll also be keeping the fats inside the sausage, where they contribute to the delicious flavor later on. If the flames on your grill are so high and leaping up, directly burning your sausage and turning it black, it’s time to lower your heat.
3. Be Careful With the Casings
As you’re grilling, it can be easy to accidentally prick through the sausage casings. Be careful and try to avoid doing this, as it will release all the juices and flavors that make the sausage taste so delicious after you finish cooking it. If you allow the juices to escape, the result will be dry and overcooked.
If you’re using tongs to grill and flip your sausages, wield them with care. It’s all too easy to prick the casings accidentally. Even if you’re only using a grilling fork, you’ll want to use it judiciously.
4. Don’t Forget to Flip
When you’re cooking sausage, you’ll want to remember to flip it. Flipping ensures both sides get equally caramelized, and the inside gets cooked thoroughly. Knowing when to flip your sausage requires a little bit of instinct.
One method is to wait until the meat is halfway cooked, then flip it and finish the second half of the cooking process on the other side. Another method is to play it by ear and flip the sausage several times over the course of the cooking process, based solely on how browned it looks like each side is getting. Whichever method you choose to go with, try to avoid letting one side stay facing the grill for too long, or you’ll risk burning it.
5. Flip Carefully
Flipping sausage isn’t hard, but you’ll still want to exercise a little bit of caution when you do it. If you’re using tongs, carefully grasp the sausage and turn it on its opposite side. If you’re using a spatula, gently slide this under the sausage and flip it without breaking the casing. If all you have is a grilling fork, try to roll the sausage over while leaving the casing undamaged.
6. Check That They’re Done
So your sausages are on the grill, and they’re starting to look nicely browned. How do you know when they’re done, though?
The easiest method is with a meat thermometer. Your target temperature should be about 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Much lower than this, and you won’t have cooked the meat thoroughly. Much higher than this, and your sausage will be blackened and crispy. Try sliding your thermometer in at the end of the sausage, to disturb the casing as little as possible.
Step Three: Removing the Sausage From the Grill
Once your sausage has reached your target internal temperature, it’s time to get it off the grill. While this step isn’t terribly complicated, there are still a few extra tips to be aware of that will help you make your sausage correctly.
1. Don’t Forget About Carry-Over Cooking
When cooking sausage, it’s a good idea to remove the sausage from the grill once it reaches approximately five degrees below your target temperature. For example, if your target temperature is 165 degrees, pull the sausage off the grill once it reaches 155 degrees. Use a meat thermometer to help you determine this.
The idea behind this practice is called carry-over cooking. In other words, when you pull your sausage off the grill, the meat is so hot inside that it continues to cook for several minutes, even though it’s no longer over direct heat. If you wait to remove your sausage from the grill until it’s done, the likely result is that your sausage will end up overcooked.
2. Gently Remove the Sausage From the Grill
As you’re taking your sausage off the grill, be careful not to get over-excited and drop them or accidentally break through the casing after all your hard work. Use a pair of tongs to lift them gently onto a waiting plate, or if that isn’t an option, try a spatula or a grilling fork. Don’t rush, and this step should be no problem.
3. Let the Sausage Rest
Once the sausage is finished cooking and you’ve removed it from the heat, let it sit for at least 10 minutes in a warm spot. This period of sitting is known as resting, and it allows all the juices to redistribute through the cooked meat, resulting in a tastier final product.
Sometimes, there’s more to grilling than just following the steps. Plenty of knowledge falls between these steps or outside of them altogether. If you’re looking for the answers to any additional questions, we hope you’ll find some here.
1. Don’t Feel Pressured to Rely Solely on the Grill
There are plenty of reasons you might want to use the stovetop in addition to the grill. Maybe you’re having a ton of guests over and want to speed up the process a little. Or, perhaps you’re still getting used to the grill, and want to supplement it with other resources. Whatever your reasons are, you should never feel pressured to rely solely on the grill if you don’t want to.
Try starting off your sausages on the stove. Simmer them in boiling water for about six minutes. After this, they should be fully cooked on the inside, or close to it. From here, you can transfer them to the grill to get a little color on the outside and finish cooking on the inside if necessary. By using this technique, you can feel confident you won’t accidentally char the outside while waiting for the inside to cook fully.
2. Don’t Feel Pressured to Use the Grill at All
Grilling sausage perfectly is certainly satisfying and produces delicious results, but it isn’t the only way to cook sausage. If your grill is out of commission or if it’s raining outside, you can always cook your sausage by boiling.
For this method of cooking sausage, fill a pot with water and add your sausages and bring it to a boil. If you’re looking to add a little extra flavor, try substituting stock, broth or even tomato sauce in place of the water. Once the liquid comes to a boil, turn down the heat and let it simmer for about six minutes, or until you’ve fully cooked the sausages.
A Recipe for Your Grilled Sausage
While grilled sausage tastes delicious all on its own, this isn’t the only way you can enjoy it. Grilled sausage, whether you prefer pork, chicken, turkey or another variety, makes a fabulous addition to plenty of mouthwatering dishes. Once you perfect your sausage grilling techniques, why not give a recipe like this a try?
Grilled Italian Sausage With Sweet and Sour Peppers and Onions
Heat up oil in a large pan on your stove over medium heat, swirling the oil around so it coats the entire pan to prevent sticking. Slice four peppers in your choice of colors into strips and add them to the pan. Slice up an onion and throw this in as well. Allow this mixture to cook for about eight minutes, stirring it every so often. Add three tablespoons of vinegar and three tablespoons of sugar, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from heat. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer your pepper-and-onion mixture into a grill-safe aluminum pan. Nestle your sausages into this mixture as well. This recipe works well with about two pounds of Italian sausage, but feel free to use slightly more or less. Place this pan on the grill and cook until the mixture starts to simmer, which should take about four minutes. Turn down the heat and continue to cook until the sausage temperature reads about 165 degrees.
For the final touch, remove the pan from the grill and lift the sausages out of the peppers with tongs. Place them directly on the grill, and cook them for an additional three minutes to give them some color. Be sure to turn them occasionally. Return them to the peppers, and toast up a few hamburger buns, if desired. Serve your sausage and peppers together on the toasted buns and enjoy.
Shop Delicious Premio Sausage Today for Your Grilling Needs
Inspired to get out there and fire up the grill for your next cookout? We hope these tips have inspired you, and that you feel confident and ready to tackle your next barbecue. Before you do that, however, don’t forget to stop by your nearest Premio distributor and pick up a package of your favorite sausage flavor.
We offer a wide variety of flavors and styles so no matter what you’re planning, we’ve got you covered. Looking for breakfast sausage? We’ve got that. Turkey sausage? Chicken sausage? A hot and sweet Italian combo pack? We’ve got all that and so much more. Shop our full catalog today.
We know grilling sausage can get uninspiring after a while, especially if you keep using the same recipe. That’s why we’re also excited to share our treasure trove of sausage-based recipes with you. We’ve got recipes for every occasion and season, although we’re especially proud of our grilling favorites recipes. Try a few of these yourself and put all your new grilling knowledge and skills to good use.
If you have any questions about our products, recipes or anything else, don’t hesitate to contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.