Sausages are a versatile and convenient food that can be used in a variety of recipes and cuisines. They are an excellent source of protein and are easy to build a meal around.
Sausages are usually pre-seasoned, so they can be thrown on the barbecue or in a pan and cooked up on the spot.
However, here are seven common mistakes people make when buying and cooking sausages.
1. Buying the wrong type of sausage
There are dozens of types of sausages in supermarkets and butchers and not all are interchangeable.
When you’re planning a sausage-based dish, one of the most important things to check is what type of sausage the recipe calls for.
Certain varieties of sausage, such as kabana (also called cabanossi), are popular in Australia and are smoked before packaging. Others, such as pork sausages, are typically sold raw and need to be thoroughly cooked before eating.
If you do need to make a substitution, at least try to find something with a similar flavour profile and texture as this can really make or break a dish.
It may be possible to substitute cooked and raw sausages, but the cooking time will need to be adjusted. You’ll also possibly need to alter the order in which you add ingredients to the pan.
2. Choosing sausages without the right percentage of fat
One way to cut calories from a meal is to choose a lean protein, but sausages that are too lean can lack flavour and taste dry.
Options such as fish, chicken breast and tofu are all great sources of lean proteins, but fat is an important part of a sausage.
A general ratio of fat to lean meat in sausages is about 25 per cent fat to 75 per cent lean meat. This ratio will ensure the sausages have flavour and will stay moist during cooking. The fat content can be adjusted by about 10 per cent either way, however, all sausages need a minimum of 15 per cent fat to stop them drying out during cooking.
Fat also solidifies the sausage structure, holds ingredients together and ensures the sausage won’t become unpleasantly crumbly. Sausages are an indulgence, so if you’re trying to avoid fat, it’s best to select a different type of meat.
3. Using a temperature that’s too high
While some meats cook best in a searingly hot pan, sausages are not one of them. Very high heat makes meat shrink and a sausage casing can burst if the meat inside contracts too quickly. A burst casing will cause the sausage to release the juices and will be dry when fully cooked.
Another problem with heat that’s too high is that it can cause the outside of the sausage to be overcooked and leathery before the interior is at a safe-to-consume temperature.
For fat to keep your sausages delicious and moist, it needs to stay inside the sausage.
Cook at low or medium-low temperatures for best results. The outside will get crispy over time, and the inside will stay moist and delicious.
4. Pricking the skin before cooking
You may have grown up thinking pricking sausages is the smart thing to do. That’s probably because you were told they would explode if you didn’t prick them. However, most (good quality) modern sausages are no longer bulked up with enough water for that to be a concern.
Many sausage packs now say not to prick the meat before cooking. Check the directions on the packet to be sure.
5. Not removing the casing when necessary
The casings are essential when you want to grill or pan-fry sausages on their own. However, for some recipes, you’ll want to remove the casing. For dishes where you want the sausage to break up into smaller pieces, such as in a pasta bake or casserole, removing the casing will make it easier to do so.
If you cut the sausage into pieces with the casing on, you’ll likely end up with slimy chunks of casing mixed throughout your meal.
6. Buying the cheapest sausages
With the cost of groceries going up and up, it’s natural to want to grab a bargain at the supermarket. However, your taste buds and stomach will thank you if you spend a few extra dollars on higher-quality sausages.
Low-cost sausages generally include trimmings left over from butchering premium cuts of meat. On the other hand, premium sausages often contain cuts with names you would recognise such as brisket and chuck. While eating meat trimmings isn’t harmful, sausages with prime cuts usually taste better.
Cheap sausages are also usually filled with other ingredients such as water, starchy fillers, added preservatives and flavour enhancers.
Look at the ingredient list to make sure the sausages you’re buying contain things you’re happy to eat.
7. Tucking in straight after cooking
You probably know you need to let a steak rest after cooking to ensure the juices don’t leak out as soon as you cut into it. Well, you should do the same with sausages, claims British chef Jeff Baker.
If you want the best sausages possible, you should even allow them to come up to room temperature before cooking them, too. That will make it less likely for them to split from sudden heat shock.
Resting the cooked sausages before serving lets the muscle fibres and juices settle, making the result juicier and softer.
How often do you cook sausages? Do you have any other tips to share with us? Let us know in the comments section below.
Also read: How to turn potatoes into a health food