Sausage Basics

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Sausage Basics
Demand Media/Eileen Sweeney

From ballparks to backyards, nothing says summer like a hot dog. eHow sat down with Tyler Wilson, co-founder of the popular Los Angeles restaurant Wurstkuche, to pick his brain about grilled sausages. Read on for some secrets that will make your sausage cookout a sizzling success.

Choosing a Sausage
Demand Media/Eileen Sweeney

Choosing a Sausage

With nearly twenty sausages on the menu at Wurstkuche, there's a lot to choose from. If you're looking for a crowd-pleaser, Wilson says that bratwurst is his best seller. The pork sausage has a higher fat content so it's very juicy. Nutmeg and coriander make it a wonderfully spiced sausage without being too spicy. Flavorful yet mild, bratwurst is a great sausage to have on hand at your barbecue.

The Classics
Demand Media/Eileen Sweeney

The Classics

Bockwurst is another well-liked variety that's primarily comprised of veal. Milk gives the sausage its distinctive white color. Flavorful and mild, it's a popular choice with kids. Another classic that's sure to please is kielbasa. This Polish sausage is made with pork, beef and onions. If you like some fire in your dogs, try a hot Italian sausage or a Louisiana hot link.

Poultry Sausages
Demand Media/Eileen Sweeney

Poultry Sausages

If you're looking for a healthier option, consider a sausage made with chicken or turkey. Since poultry is a leaner meat, fruit juice is often added to ensure that the meat is succulent. This is why sausages made with chicken or turkey tend to be sweeter.

Veggie Sausages
Demand Media/Eileen Sweeney

Veggie Sausages

Even vegetarians can enjoy sausage at your barbecue. Wurstkuche makes several vegetarian varieties that incorporate tasty ingredients such as eggplant, red peppers and Yukon potatoes. From carnivores to vegans, there's a sausage for everybody.

Exotics
Demand Media/Eileen Sweeney

Exotics

While pork shoulder is the most common meat ground up for links, Wilson says that almost anything can be found in a sausage casing. Surprise your friends with unusual sausages made from buffalo, duck, rattlesnake or alligator. You'll have to visit a specialty shop or a restaurant like Wurstkuche to find these daring sausages, but the buzz they create is worth a little extra effort.

Grilling Tips
Demand Media/Eileen Sweeney

Grilling Tips

Wilson asserts that sausages are best cooked over an open flame. Grilling makes the casing crisp and gets the fats and juices moving, which results in a more evenly cooked sausage. However, Wilson warns not to let the flame get too big. You don't want to burn the fats and end up with a sausage that's blackened on the outside but undercooked on the inside. Keep your frank out of the flames.

Cut the Mustard
Demand Media/Eileen Sweeney

Cut the Mustard

Sausages and mustard go hand in hand. Wilson maintains that mustard is "essential to the experience." While he keeps a bottle or two of ketchup around, mustard is the dominant condiment. Why? Ketchup is vinegar based and can overwhelm subtle flavor. Mustard adds flavor but complements sausage without being too strong. For your barbecue, be sure to have a few varieties on hand such as Dijon, whole grain and honey mustard.

Toppings
Demand Media/Eileen Sweeney

Toppings

According to Wilson, what you pile on top is all a matter of personal preference. He says that toppings are not essential to bring out the flavors of the sausage, but garnishes such as caramelized onions, sauerkraut and grilled sweet-and-spicy peppers can be satisfying additions. Prepare the toppings alongside your sausages in a pan right on the grill.

On the Side
Demand Media/Eileen Sweeney

On the Side

When choosing a side dish, potatoes are classic -- especially in the form of fries. Wilson points out that fruit is another great companion to a hearty sausage. The flavors complement each other well, and fruit provides a lighter element to the meal.

Wash it Down
Demand Media/Eileen Sweeney

Wash it Down

Beer is an essential pairing with sausage. As Wilson says, beer is "absolutely part of it." Sausages are always fairly high in salt, which is one of the main reasons that beer is such a popular pairing. You can also boil your sausages in beer and then finish them up on the grill. Wilson says this adds a great beer characteristic, especially if you use a nice strong ale. Whether it's for cooking, drinking or both, don't forget the beer.

Enjoy with Friends
Demand Media/Eileen Sweeney

Enjoy with Friends

Lastly, and most importantly according to Wilson, sausages are meant to be enjoyed with friends. Wilson contends that sausage is "food for everybody." It's an accessible and social food. So after you've picked out your favorite dogs and stocked up on mustard and sauerkraut, be sure to invite some friends over so you can enjoy your sausages with good company.

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