(Family Features) While it’s hard to resist the delicious aroma of food sizzling on the grill, few people associate the backyard barbecue with gourmet greatness. As the flames heat up this summer, you can single-handedly alter that perception by introducing a new element of flavor — Italian sausage.
A close cousin to the bratwurst, versatile Italian sausage offers a flavorful alternative with a unique blend of herbs and spices. Available in a variety of seasonings and flavors — such as Johnsonville’s Mild, Sweet or Hot Italian Sausage Links — savory Italian sausage can serve as the foundation of wide array of dishes.
Served on a bun, as a main course or as an ingredient in a prepared entrée, Italian sausage can take you from basic grill to brilliant gourmet with no extra fuss.
A bath is an excellent — and simple — method for layering in unexpected flavors with Italian sausage that will make your guests wonder what other culinary secrets you have hidden away. For example, Johnsonville’s White Wine Sausage Bath combines the sophisticated overtones of wine with fresh herbs and veggies for an unexpectedly gourmet grill entrée.
Or, if your tastes lean more toward the traditional flavors of the summertime grill, try Summertime Kabobs or Italian Burgers — they’re new and unexpected ways to appreciate old favorites.
The kabobs blend peppers and onions with the juicy pop of Italian sausage, the sweet tang of pineapple and an unexpected touch of ripe black olives. Or, combine ground Italian sausage with your beef and a few special ingredients for a bolder, better burger.
Serve these dishes with a simple tossed garden salad and a chilled wine or icy microbrew, and sit back while your friends and family marvel at the new master of the grill.
Before you get started, consider these tips to make the most of your sausage grilling experience:
• Avoid utensils such as forks, which can puncture the sausage and allow flavorful juices to escape.
• Keep all your food safe and flavorful by using one set of tongs to place raw meat on the grill and different tongs to turn meat that is already cooking, as well as any side dishes, such as vegetables, that you may be grilling at the same time.
• Grill sausages at a low to medium-low heat, cooking slowly to keep the meat moist and flavorful.
• Maintain the same temperature on the outside and inside of the sausage. Meat should be cooked through with no pink showing, and a thermometer should read 160°F when your sausage is done.
For additional recipes featuring Italian sausage, as well as cooking demonstrations and video tips, visit www.johnsonville.com.
White Wine Sausage Bath
Prep: 15 minutes
Grill: 30 minutes
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
2 shallots or small onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 bottle (750 ml) sauvignon blanc or other fruity white wine
1 bunch fresh thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
2 packages (19.76 ounces each) Johnsonville Mild Italian Sausage Links
Large (12-inch x 9-inch) heavy-duty disposable foil pan
Preheat grill to medium-low. Place a large heavy-duty disposable foil pan on grill. Add mushrooms, peppers, shallots and garlic; cook and stir until tender. Add wine, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a gentle simmer. Add sausage and cover pan with foil. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into sausage reads 160°F.
Remove sausage from pan. Grill links until browned; then return to pan. Discard thyme and bay leaves. Cover pan and keep warm until serving.
Prep: 20 minutes
Grill: 10 minutes
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound Johnsonville Ground Mild Italian Sausage
6 tablespoons pesto
6 slices provolone cheese
6 slices tomato
Fresh basil leaves
6 hamburger buns, split
Preheat grill to medium. In large bowl, combine egg, onion and bread crumbs. Add ground beef and sausage; mix well. Shape into six burgers.
Grill burgers for 10 to 12 minutes, turning once, until a meat thermometer reads 160°F. Serve burgers on buns with pesto, provolone cheese, tomato and basil.
Serving suggestion: For spicy burgers, substitute Hot Italian Sausage.
Prep: 30 minutes
Grill: 10 minutes
1 medium green pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium sweet red pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium sweet onion, cut into wedges
2 cups Italian salad dressing, divided
1 package (19.76 ounces) Johnsonville Mild, Sweet or Hot Italian Sausage Links
1 fresh pineapple, cut into 1-inch chunks
Black olives, optional
In a large resealable plastic bag, combine peppers, onion and 1 1/2 cups Italian dressing. Seal bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Place 1 inch of water in a large skillet; add sausage. Bring to a simmer; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool sausage slightly; cut into 1-inch pieces.
Preheat grill to medium. On metal or soaked wooden skewers, alternately thread sausage, peppers, onion, pineapple and olives. Grill for 10 minutes or until browned, turning frequently and basting with remaining Italian dressing.