I cringe and clinch my teeth when I go home and see my dad grill a sausage. He takes it from fresh meat in the refrigerator to a hot grill and cooks it all the way through. The final product – usually a dry sausage.
There are generally two types of sausages – fresh and smoked. Smoked simply means that they are cooked in a smoker at the packing house. Hot dogs, andouille, and kielbasa are all good examples of this. These products cook (reheat) faster on the grill and are usually easier to grill.
Fresh sausages, like an Italian sausage or bratwurst, are raw meat and require thorough cooking.
The best way to cook a fresh sausage (and it won’t hurt a smoked sausage) is to poach it first. Start by getting a pan of salted water up to poaching temperature, so between 160 and 190 degrees, uncovered. 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 grill, so about 350 degrees. 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.