Sausages come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and are extremely versatile in the different ways in which they can be cooked. Popular cooking methods for sausages include pan frying on the stove, grilling outdoors, or even cooking them over an open fire at camp. There are always, however, adaptations which can be made to the sausage cooking process to introduce an additional little twist of flavor or texture and further enhance the eating process.
How to stop sausages bursting
One of the most annoying things about cooking sausages in a frying pan is that they do sometimes have a tendency to burst. This not only spoils the final presentation of the sausages on the plate but allows the juices – and thus the flavor – to largely escape to the pan and be lost. One very common way people go about stopping sausages bursting during cooking is to firstly prick the skin with a fork. Sadly, this has the same effect as the sausages bursting in that the juices are still escaping to the pan.
Apart from ensuring you buy good quality sausages, the key to stopping sausages bursting in the pan is to cook them long and slow. Pour about a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil in to a frying pan and add the sausages to the cold pan. Put the pan on to the lowest possible heat and cook in this way, turning them with cooking tongs every two or three minutes. The average sausage will take about fifteen to twenty minutes to cook, but the final result is more than worth the wait.
Spicy sausage Spanish tortilla
1 large baking potato, peeled and chopped to one inch chunks
1 tablespoon vegetable oil for frying
4 skinless sausages, chopped to one inch pieces
1 small white onion, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
6 eggs, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper
Add the potatoes to a pot of cold salted water, bring to a simmer and cook for around fifteen minutes until they are just starting to soften. Drain well, cover and leave to cool.
Bring the oil up to a medium heat in a deep, 10-inch base frying pan. Add the sausage pieces and fry for seven or eight minutes until cooked, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Add the potato pieces and the onion slices. Season with the smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Stir fry gently for a few minutes to soften the onion and reheat the potato.
Pour the eggs in to the pan carefully, trying to ensure an even spread of the sausage, potato and onion. Cook until you can see that the egg is almost but not quite fully set. Using a spatula, slowly ease the part cooked tortilla on to a large dinner plate. Protect your hands with oven gloves and lay the frying pan upside down on top of the tortilla. Carefully slide one hand under the plate and hold the handle of the pan with your other hand. Invert the plate and pan to effectively turn the tortilla. Put the pan back on the heat and cook for a few more minutes until the egg is completely cooked.
Slide the sausage tortilla on to a plate and slice like a pizza to serve. This dish is actually just as good cold as it is hot and is perfect as an alternative little twist for a family picnic.
Deep fried sausages in batter
If intending to deep fry sausages, you should either buy skinless sausages, or remove the skins before cooking. The latter option requires a little extra work but in general terms, most interesting and imaginative sausage types come in skins. To remove the skin from a sausage, simply make a small nick at one end and carefully peel as you would a banana.
Batter for deep frying sausages can be as simple as self-rising flour, water and salt or it can be considerably more imaginative. Beer batter works well with sausages, as does a simple batter infused with some dried herbs. Try dried thyme with beef based sausages, while sage works very well with pork.
There are two related mistakes commonly made when deep frying anything in batter. The first is that the oil is not hot enough when the food is added. This means that the batter will start to absorb the oil, rather than immediately crisp up on the outside. The result is that your creation will be served soggy and pale in color, rather than deliciously crisp and golden. The second mistake is adding too much to the fryer at the same time. If you add too much cold food at once, the oil temperature will be significantly reduced, causing the same effect as previously mentioned.
The oil in your fryer should be brought up to a fairly high heat, around 350F. Dip the sausages in the batter and allow a few seconds for the excess to drip off before very carefully lowering them by hand in to the hot oil. Deep fry for about five or six minutes until the batter is beautifully crisp and colored. Lift from the oil with a deep frying spider or metal slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper before serving.
Sausages are probably associated with camping as much as if not more than any other type of food. While sausages can be cooked in a pan over a campfire or even on a grilling rack, there is something extra special about cooking them directly over the fire. The sausages are held just above the flames where they will get maximum heat but not burn as they would in direct contact with the fire. There are three principal ways in which this can be achieved and the even better news is that there is no need to be at camp. Anywhere you can legally and safely build a proper open fire will do.
The easiest, boy scout style of cooking sausages over a campfire is to whittle one end of a sturdy but fairly thin stick to a point with a camping knife. A sausage is then stuck on the end of the stick and the heat of the fire takes care of any hygiene issues. The second way is to take toasting forks to camp with you. The third way of toasting sausages on a campfire is a combination of the previous two. Simply secure a standard table fork to the end of a stick with some thin wire. String should never be used as it will just burn and the fork and sausage will fall in to the fire.
Experimenting with sausages
Aside from experimenting with different ways to cook sausages, trying different types of sausages can be a whole new food adventure. Check in your store or supermarket to see what is available. Consider the main ingredients of the sausages and pair them with other foods you would associate with that ingredient. This is a great way of creating new menu ideas without significant extra cost or effort.