Hamburgers, chicken, fish —I love it all. But this Memorial Day, I plan to please my German forefathers and break the mold of the same-old-same-old. It’s time to fire up the grill for some juicy, all-natural sausages. Savory, spicy, sweet and succulent, I love to celebrate sausage in all its diversity! Back in the old days, sausage meant mainly pork. Not so anymore. One peruse through the meat department of your local Whole Foods Market turns up all shapes and sizes of sausages made from beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, pork (of course) and even seafood. Some varieties are raw and must be cooked; others are already fully cooked and just need to be heated to serve. Not much of a meat-eater? Don’t forget there are no-meat “sausage-style” vegetarian options available that can be cooked in many of the same ways that traditional sausage is cooked. Many sausage varieties are lean and full of delicious ingredients such as apples, sage, feta cheese, spinach, garlic, herbs and spices, and for a touch of sweetness, maple syrup. Some are suggested for breakfast and others for main meals. And with so many ways to cook them, the sky’s the limit! You can bake them, broil or boil them, warm them in a skillet, or slice and sauté, and eat them alone or as part of a main or side dish. With all the myriad ways of preparing sausage, there’s still no tastier way than grilling. Did you know you can parboil sausages to pre-cook them before grilling? This helps keep them moist and tender. Parboil in water, beer, wine, broth and even apple juice. Get creative! Drop in hot liquid just until the skin tightens up and the sausage looks a little firmer. Then just put them on the grill to finish cooking. For straight grilling, keep your flame medium to low. Better to take longer to cook than biting into a dried out sausage with burnt skin! Use larger sausage for grilling and keep the smaller varieties for the pan on the stove-top. Whether firing up the grill or not, here are a variety of ways to prepare and enjoy sausage:
- Grill or pan sauté and serve over hot whole grains or pasta. Here’s a recipe for Farfalle with Lamb Sausage, Feta and Mint.
- Slice and sauté, or grill whole and slice to top baked potatoes or sweet potatoes.
- Sauté with a variety of colorful peppers.
- Poach in beer or wine. Here’s an idea for Beer-Poached Grilled Sausages.
- Don’t forget that sausage pairs well with fruit. Try grilling it alongside peaches or pineapple, or try this recipe for Baked Sausage with Sauerkraut and Apples.
- Flavor soup or stew with sausage like we did with this pot-luck perfect Hearty Lentil and Sausage Soup.
- Pair sweet sausage with summer veggies. You’ll love this Sweet Italian Sausage with Zucchini and Tomatoes.
- Serve sausage with breakfast with eggs or oatmeal. This recipe for Savory Sausage and Cheddar Breakfast Casserole is so good.
- Don’t forget about picnics. Sausage is perfect for the outdoor BBQ and demands a delicious potato salad or coleslaw.
- Make Chicken Sausage Jambalaya with Shrimp - then call me for dinner!
- You can even turn sausage into fun finger-foods and appetizers. This Cranberry Cheddar Sausage Bites recipe does just that.
- What would sausage be without cabbage? Lonely. But not if you marry the two with this recipe for Red Cabbage and German Sausage.
- Grill or pan-cook sausage and serve sliced over a leafy green salad.