Happy Independence Day! (And to our visitors from outside the U.S., happy Thursday!)
All across our great country today, patriotic folks will be slipping into swimsuits, cracking open cold beers, and firing up their grills. But just in case you didn't get a menu planned in time, these splendidly simple grilled sausages with their trio of dipping sauces have you more than covered.
The Fourth of July is definitely a food-focused holiday. It's also a great reason to celebrate fresh summer produce and share heirloom family recipes. There are plenty of iconic American recipes worth looking forward to! But if burgers aren't your thing or if you're in a fix and just need something to grill, then smoked sausages might just become your new summer go-to. They'll be right at home on the tables full of creamy potato salad and coleslaw, ripe berry pies and homemade ice cream.
Smoked sausages are perfect for any backyard barbecue, whether you are grilling at home or packing it up to cook on the road. Unlike fresh sausage (such as bratwurst or Italian), smoked sausage has already been cooked, making it ideal for both low-maintenance entertaining and quick weeknight meals. And while fresh sausage can be a bit finicky (shriveling up on the grill or bursting at the seams), smoked sausage is far less temperamental. Since you don't have to worry about cooking the meat to a certain temperature, the only requirements are heating them through and giving them a nice char.
I personally prefer cooking smoked sausages as kebabs. That way you can serve a variety of flavors and meats — like beef, pork, and chicken, or Andouille and Kielbasa — so that guests can pick and choose. It also means you aren't limited to dinner; the bite-sized pieces can be served up tapas-style as a hearty appetizer. Three beyond easy dipping sauces (each using just a few pantry ingredients) add a few more layers of flavor and keep the dish a little interesting.
Good smoked sausage isn't hard to find: Applegate Organics and Aidells are two widely available brands I like that offer a variety of ingredient combinations. If you have a little lead time before your cook-out, there are also lots of online sources that offer high-quality and highly delicious smoked meat via mail. A couple of Southern brands I can recommend are Conecuh and Edwards Virginia Traditions. (And of course I'd love to hear what brands you like, too!)
So here's my last brag about smoked sausages. Should you actually happen to have any leftovers (though if you have hungry men in your house you probably won't), keep 'em to throw in eggs for breakfast or toss into pasta for dinner the next day. The options are endless! If I haven't sold you yet on this tasty dish, then I don't know what will. What can I say, sometimes simple is best. But I'll let you be the judge.
Grilled Smoked Sausage Skewers with Three Zesty Sauces
Serves 4 to 6
For the sausage:
2 pounds smoked sausages (such as kielbasa, chicken, andouille, beef)
Neutral cooking oil such as canola or safflower, for brushing
6 skewers (if wooden, soak for 30 minutes before grilling)
Sweet and sour chutney:
1/4 cup mango chutney (I used Major Grey's)
2 tablespoons whole-ground mustard
Tangy Dijon ale sauce:
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons medium-bodied beer (I used an IPA)
2 teaspoons honey, or to taste
Pinch of kosher salt
Creamy horseradish dip:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons prepared horseradish, or to taste
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
Pinch of kosher salt
Pinch of sugar
For the sausages, preheat the grill. For gas, close the lid and turn all burners on high for about 12 to 15 minutes. Once hot, scrape grates clean using a wire brush if necessary.
Meanwhile, cut the sausages into 1 1/4-inch pieces on the diagonal. Thread 4 to 5 pieces of sausage onto a skewer, leaving about 3/4 inch of space between each piece for even cooking.
Leave one burner on high and turn other burners to medium low. (The goal is to maintain a temperature between 325°F and 375°F.) Lay the skewers parallel to the grates. Close the cover and cook, turning the skewers once, until sausages are lightly charred and heated all the way through, about 4 to 6 minutes per side.
For the sweet and sour chutney, whisk chutney and whole ground mustard to combine.
For the tangy Dijon ale sauce, whisk the Dijon, beer, honey, and salt to combine. Add more honey, if desired.
For the creamy horseradish dip, whisk the mayonnaise, horseradish, cider vinegar, sugar, and salt to combine. Add more horseradish, if desired.
Serve the grilled sausages on the skewer or mixed on a platter with the dipping sauces alongside.
Nealey Dozier is a former wedding planner turned chef, culinary instructor, recipe developer, and food writer. She is based in Atlanta. You can find more of her Southern adventures in eating and entertaining at www.dixiecaviar.com.
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