Hey there, and welcome to another installment of our Grilling 101 blogs. Sadly this week was a bit hectic for us, and we weren’t able to get out a blog about Father’s Day. So instead, I’d like to take this time to talk about another popular grilling food: sausages.
Sausages are one of the oldest foods in existence, going back as far as 5000 years. They are generally categorized as ground meat mixed with fat, seasonings and—most importantly—salt and wrapped in a casing made of artificial protein or animal intestines. This allows the meat inside to be preserved over longer periods of time compared to more solid food items like steak and chicken breasts. Additionally, the salt in sausages helps to kill bacteria through a process called osmotic (the salt literally causes the bacteria to dehydrate), and dissolve globular proteins from the meats, which then act as binding matrix for the meats that remain in the sausage interior.
The majority of sausages are usually pork-based, but it is also possible to find turkey, beef, lamb, and chicken varieties. Sausages are dried by hanging them in rooms filled with cool circulating air to preserve them and enhance their flavours. Once they are dried, a sausage can be kept unrefrigerated for weeks.
While sausages are high in fat and sodium, they are also an excellent source of protein. Most sausages contain all of the essential amino acids that our bodies cannot produce naturally, which are used in muscle and bone growth, as well as maintenance and repair to bodily tissues. Sausages also provide a variety of vitamins such as Vitamin A, B-6, C, E, and minerals that include foliate, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. The amount varies depending on what kind of sausage you’re cooking: pork sausages have higher potassium levels than beef sausages, which have higher levels of phosphorus and magnesium.
There are many ways to cook a sausage, and each comes with their own sets of risks and rewards. This is especially true when it comes to grilling. Sausages, like many meats, contract as they cook in proportion to the heat they are cooked over. So if you grill a sausage over high temperatures, the outside will contract quicker than the meat inside and the sausage will burst, spilling fats and meat onto your grill and into the flames, which results in flare-ups that can ruin what salvageable meat is left. And even if you take the sausage off the grill before this can happen, if you cut into it the meat is going to be raw, again because the outside cooked faster than the inside.
The best method for grilling sausages is to parboil your sausage to render fat from your sausages (placing them in to a pan of water and simmering for about 8 to 10 minutes) then finishing on the grill. If you want to go directly to grill and skip the rendering process, you’re best to start the sausages on a cooler part of the grill (medium/low heat) for approximately five minutes before turning and continuing grilling for an additional 5 to 6 minutes – remove from direct heat and indirectly heat for another 5 to 7 minutes (flipping once more) to ensure that the sausage is properly cooked without rupturing the casing. You can then add BBQ sauce (if desired) and finish on the grill for a couple of minutes of direct heating. You’ll know the sausages are done once they’ve reached an internal temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit, have clear juices running and have the desired degree of char / firmness in texture to the casing. Happy Grilling!!!