Kitchn Love Letters

The $5 Meat Department Find I Rely on All Summer Long

updated Jun 23, 2022
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Sales clerk looking at female customer while assisting at supermarket
Credit: Getty Images/Maskot

When it comes to serving my family a protein-packed dinner, I often rely on chicken breasts and pork tenderloins. They’re quick-cooking and sure to please. My only compliant, during the summertime, is that both options do require a decent amount of creativity on my part. It’s on me to add the flavor and the fun — and sometimes, that’s just too much effort. So during these warmer months, I like to look elsewhere while I’m in the meat department. More specifically, at the selection of fresh sausage links.

Credit: Patty Catalano

Fresh Sausage Links, $5.49 for 1.25 pounds at Publix

Most major grocery chains that I’ve visited carry both national brands of fresh sausage as well as their own in-house links. At my local Publix, I can choose from hot or mild Italian sausage, Bratwurst, Chorizo, turkey sausage, and chicken sausage, in addition to the breakfast sausages stocked in the next aisle. During the summer I like to keep at least two styles on hand at all times, usually Italian sausage and Bratwurst. For a few reasons.

First of all, fresh sausages require no extra work, because the seasoning is already done for you! Just heat and eat! It’s easy to toss a few links of sausage on the grill for an easy dinner for my immediate family or to share with friends after a day at the pool. Mild Italian sausages and Bratwurst are savory and full of flavor without the spice. Eaters of all ages can enjoy sausages without having to cater to petite and picky palates.

Credit: Patty Catalano

They’re also incredibly versatile. Serve the sausages straight-up in soft buns with a drizzle of mustard, or bring the cast iron skillet out to the grill to sauté a pepper and onion topping. Fresh sausages don’t have to be eaten whole, either. Remove the casing and pinch off 1-inch pieces. Roll the already-seasoned meat into bite-sized meatballs and sear them in a skillet or thread onto a skewer. Once browned all over, serve the sausages tossed with pasta and veggies for a fresh and filling take on pasta salad. You can also keep the casing on, and cut into bigger-than-bite-sized pieces. Scatter the sausage on a sheet pan with pre-cut veggies and call it a night. And before you go to bed, you can use your favorite fresh sausage in this slow cooker breakfast casserole. As for the chicken and pork? They’ll be back in heavy rotation in a few months.

What are your favorite sausage-centric dinners? Tell us in the comments below.