I love cooking sausages for myriad reasons, but my two favorite things about serving up sausages at parties, barbecues, or just for a family dinner are rather confessional, so don’t judge me too harshly, because I’m opening up here. First, many sausages are pre-cooked when you buy them, so there’s no risk of plating an undercooked meat — really, you just have to heat and serve. Second, most sausages you get from the grocery store are also pre-seasoned, so they taste great even without effort on the “chef’s” part. In other words, if you’re not the greatest since, say, Giada De Laurentiis, never fear, sausages are here to make you seem awesome nonetheless.
But none of that is to say the sausage can’t be the centerpiece of a fantastic meal! Thanks to the simplicity of their heat-and-serve prep, sausages allow you to focus on all the other foods you’ll be preparing for your feast. From the fanciest multi-fixing hot dogs to a traditional Italian sausage and pasta dinner, the fine sausages you choose to anchor your meal will let all the other ingredients sparkle by affording you more time to focus on their prep and cooking.
Sausages taste great and they’re easy to cook. Fire up the grill, preheat the oven, oil up a pan, or stoke up the campfire, because there’s no wrong way to cook these tasty tubes of meat. (OK, actually, avoid cooking sausages in the microwave — that’s a surefire way to have ’em explode.)
An Oktoberfest celebration without beer is anathema, of course, but an Oktoberfest without sausage is also a sorry affair. This single-pot sausage and sauerkraut soup is laughably easy to make once all the chopping and slicing is done, and it merges the flavors you expect from an Oktoberfest meal into every superlative spoonful (said flavors are sausage, sauerkraut, and beer, FYI). I used half Pork Andouille Sausage and half Chicken Spinach and Gruyere Sausage from Les Trois Petit Cochons, for the record, but you can make this meal with all sorts of different sausages. Basically, you make this sausage-centered feast in a bowl by adding everything together and cooking it for a while. But, sir, your guests will be like: “Ah! Prost! How did you make such gud Suppe?”
- 1 pound sausage, cut into .25-inch discs
- 2.5 quart stock (chicken or vegetable, but not beef!)
- 1 12-ounce serving of a lager or bock beer
- 1 25-ounce jar of sauerkraut
- 3 medium russet potatoes, cubed
- 1 large leek, chopped
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 banana peppers, seeded and chopped
- 3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, chopped
- 10 chicken wings, skinned and trimmed
- 4 tomatoes, diced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Put everything except the tomatoes, salt, and pepper in a large pot and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer away for one hour.
- Add in the tomatoes and simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, and consider pulling out the chicken wings, slicing the meat and putting it back into the pot, and discarding the bones.
The great thing about Italian sausage and peppers is that you can serve this elegantly simple foodstuff as its own entree, stuffed into rolls, over pasta or rice, or even over a bed of fresh greens. Sausage and peppers can be dressed up, dressed down, or anywhere in between. Just make sure you choose a flavorful pork sausage with plenty of fennel and garlic seasoning if you want to achieve that perfect sweet and savory flavor. And hey, this is a meal you can make passably well with meat-free sausages — I know as I’ve done so many times, being married to a vegetarian. I usually use Field Roast Italian Sausage when going meatless with this meal, so feel free to sub those in.
- 1 pound Italian sausage, cut in .25-inch to .5-inch discs
- 2 large bell peppers, seeded and sliced (use one red, one yellow for optimal aesthetics)
- 2 medium yellow or white onions, sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 cup Marsala wine
- .25 cup fresh basil, chopped (or 3 tbsp dried basil)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp peper
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 can diced tomatoes (or four fresh tomatoes, diced)
- As many red pepper flakes as you want
- Heat the oil in large pan, then add the sausage and cook until browning commences (4 to 5 minutes).
- Add onion and peppers, salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add oregano, basil, and garlic and stir. Add tomatoes, wine, and red pepper flakes.
- Simmer with occasional stirring for 15 to 20 minutes, until most liquid has cooked off and/or thickened.
- Serve as you will — in sandwiches, over pasta, or let cool a bit, then toss and serve over chopped lettuce and other mixed greens.
If you want to look like a master chef, but also want to make a meal that’s hard to screw up, then these zucchini boats are a great way to do it. As a bonus, they can be the entree or an app, so they’re a great versatile dish for a dinner party. I like to use a decently spicy chorizo for these, but you can use just about any type of sausage, from kielbasa to Italian and so on. These also reheat well, so feel free to make them far ahead of the soiree and then bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 or 12 minutes to re-heat them immediately prior to serving.
- 1 pound of sausage, chopped
- 4 large zucchinis
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- .5 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- .5 cup mozzarella, shredded
- .25 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Slice the zucchinis in half and gently scoop out a thick channel in each half.
- Chop the zucchini you removed and toss it with the onions, garlic, and tomatoes.
- In a large skillet, cook the sausages in the oil until browning starts, then add the veggie mix.
- Cook for five minutes more, stirring frequently, and start pre-heating the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Meanwhile, mix the cheese, breadcrumbs, and salt and pepper in a bowl.
- Spoon the cooked mixture into the open zucchini boats, then generously sprinkle the cheese and breadcrumb mixture over the top.
- Bake the stuffed boats for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cheese melts and the boats start to brown on top.
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