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Sausage Hits A Home Run
An All-American Meal with International Roots

sausage and peppersSummer time often includes good ole' American outdoor activities, like baseball, barbecue and street fairs. And whether they take the form of Italian sausage and pepper heroes, bratwurst or the common hot dog in a bun, summertime menus are usually filled with sausages.

While a grilled sausage in a bun is the ideal outdoor food - no plates, forks or knives required - this casual cookout cuisine also is a perfect introduction to ethnic flavors.

An American tradition

Sausage found its way to the pushcarts and hot dog stands of America in the 19th century. In 1893, sausages became standard fare at baseball parks when Chris Von Ahe, owner of the St. Louis Browns, began serving sausage links during the game. Americans fell in love with this easy to eat, convenient and inexpensive food.

Today, Americans annually eat about 26 million hot dogs and sausages in major league ballparks and consume about 7 billion hot dogs and sausages throughout the grilling season.

The ethnic connection

While sausage on the grill is undoubtedly an American tradition, the origin of the links is widespread. From Germany's frankfurters to Vienna's "wieners," it is likely that the North American sausage came from a combination of eastern European sausages brought here by butchers of several nationalities.

Check your local butcher for a variety of international options, including pork sausages from:

  • Poland - Pork's naturally mild flavor hits home when combined with garlic in Polish kielbasa. Grilled russet potatoes are the perfect compliment. The kids can help prepare a slaw with Poland's own carrots and cabbage.

  • Italy - Fennel seed, garlic, nutmeg or coriander team up with pork in sweet Italian sausage. Hot Italian sausage has red pepper for extra zest. Serve with a macaroni salad and Italian bread and have the kids pitch in by arranging an antipasto tray with fresh veggies, olives and pickles.

  • Spain and Mexico - Chorizo gets its characteristic flavor from paprika, ground chili, garlic, cumin and coriander. A festive salsa coupled with chorizo sausage and wrapped in a tortilla is a great Mexican combination. Offer corn chips, guacamole and orange wedges.

  • Great Britain - "Bangers" are mild sausages seasoned with herbs. Traditionally served with mashed potatoes and onion gravy, England's "bangers and mash" can be transformed into a fun outdoor meal. Serve the sausages on a platter surrounded by grilled red onions and potato salad. This family-style meal is a great way to celebrate a team win in the World Series.

  • Germany - Bratwurst combines pork and veal with ginger, nutmeg and either coriander or caraway. Top your bratwurst with sauerkraut and/or Swiss cheese. German potato salad is the perfect accompaniment.

    grilled bratwurstHow to grill sausages

    Whether you call them bangers, kielbasa, wieners, frankfurters, sags, dogs, brats or links, grilled sausages are a mainstay of American cuisine and are especially ideal for outdoor cooking.

    For grilling perfect sausages, Snyder recommends following these simple tips:

  • Always grill sausage over medium heat to prevent the casing from bursting and losing juices. Sausage is finished cooking when it's nicely browned and the juices run clear.

  • Ready-to-eat sausages, such as kielbasa or hot dogs, are thoroughly cooked and only need browning and warming on the grill. Fully cooked sausages can be kept up to two weeks in the refrigerator in the original wrapping or four to five days if opened.

  • Fresh sausages, such as bratwurst, chorizo or Italian sausage, need to be cooked before serving. Grill for 10-20 minutes, depending on shape - links will take longer than patties. Or parboil in beer or water for 15-20 minutes, then brown on the grill for 5-6 minutes. Fresh sausage can be kept in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

    "Grilled sausage is easy to prepare and provides a simple centerpiece for a casual outdoor meal. With all the varieties and flavors available, it's easy to turn this American holiday into an ethnic feast," says Snyder.

    also see -> Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest

    More about grilled sausages around the Web:

    My Recipes - Grilled Sausage Recipes

    Grilling Sausages - Grill them through, but hold in the flavor



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