We have a lot of varieties of sausage links and patties at Fresh Fork. Our pasture-raised meats are so delicious, that we keep coming up with new ways to show them off! Also, FYI: we never use MSG or sodium nitrate.
Some Helpful Definitions
Fresh: a sausage that is raw meat that has not been smoked. Fresh sausages include Italian sausage, bratwursts, chicken sausages and chorizo.
Smoked: Smoked sausages (like kielbasa and andouille) have been put in the smokehouse to slowly cook and add the smoked flavor. Smoked sausages usually go through a “cure” or salt brine first. This helps the meat hold together and protects against dangerous bacteria formation when the product is being smoked and the meat slowly rises through the “danger zone,” between 40 and 140 degrees. This is usually where you will see sodium nitrate. We do what is consider an “uncured product” with no added nitrates.
Uncured: As you will notice on our bacon, kielbasa, and andouille, the products are labeled “uncured.” This means we use no added sodium nitrate. Instead, the brine has natural nitrates occurring from celery powder and sea salt.
Meet Some Sausages
Italian Sausage Links: This is our most versatile sausage. Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes add a slight zing to this fresh sausage. 4 big links in a package, 1.25# per package. Great roasted in oven, stuffed in peppers, or grilled. If grilling, use slow, indirect heat. See notes below about fresh sausage cooking.
Kielbasa: A garlic forward, smoked link. 4 links per pack, 1.25# per package. This sausage is great braised with cabbage or kraut, seared on a skillet and finished in the oven, or grilled over indirect heat.
Andouille: A fine-textured, smokey and slightly spicy Spanish-style sausage. 4 smoked links per package, 1.25# per package. This is one of my favorite grillers. It is hard to dry out, it bursts with flavor, and has a great crunch.
Green Onion Bratwursts: 4 big, fresh links per package. 1.25# per package. These mild brats have a slight onion flavor that is the prefect compliment to some mustard and a side of potato salad.
Chicken Italian Links: 4 sausages per pack, ~1 #. This fresh sausage is lean but bursting with flavor. We added some fennel and red pepper to make them pop. If grilled, we do suggest poaching first or cooking slowly over indirect heat.
Proper Sausage Cooking
In an ideal world, it’s best to poach a fresh sausages first (and it won’t hurt a smoked sausage.) You can poach them in a sous-vide (160 is goal internal temp), in vacuum-sealed plastic pouches in water, or just plunk ’em in directly.
Start by getting a pan of uncovered, salted water (or, if you want to up the beer flavor, try using beer or a combination of beer and water) up to poaching temperature (between 160 and 190 degrees–use a meat thermometer to check.) Add your sausages and cook thoroughly. For the size of our sausages, this takes about 25 minutes.
Remove the sausage from the water and finish them on a medium-hot (about 350 degrees) grill. You can also finish them in a covered skillet with a little bit of butter or oil to prevent sticking. The direct hot heat will crisp up the skin but won’t dry out the meat. Cook until well browned and crispy on the outside and no longer pink inside– the sausages should be “set up” at this point, or firm. Allow them to rest, tented in foil, for 5 minutes before serving.
Sausages can be grilled without being poached first, but you have to be careful not to dry them out. Start them on high heat for a few minutes to get some good grill marks, then move them to more indirect medium heat (325-350) until they reach 160 internal temp. Allow to rest before serving.