Making a case for flavor-packed sausage sandwiches
Sausages are synonymous with good times. Think about it. We grill them on hot summer days, top bratwurst with onions and mustard at music fests and indulge in frankfurters at ballgames. Delicious and fun. So why not enjoy them in the middle of winter?
In addition to great flavor, there are a couple of bonuses: Sausage cooks quickly. It’s also economical at the meat counter. These days, the choices move beyond Italian and pork sausages. Many large supermarkets sell varieties made from chicken, turkey, lamb – both raw and fully cooked. Flavorings range from red chile spice to sweet apple and onion.
I look for sausages free of additives, preservatives and excess sugar. I favor fully cooked chicken sausages for speed and their reduced calorie count. I stock fully cooked andouille and kielbasa in the freezer for inspired weekday cooking. I opt for fresh spicy Italian, savory lamb merguez and rich paprika-laden Hungarian links for company.
Cooking fresh sausages indoors requires moisture to prevent dryness. I like to simmer them in water, broth or beer to cook them through. Then, tip off the liquid to allow the sausages to brown in the pan. This browning develops flavor and crisps the casing – the same attributes we like from our summer grilling efforts.
In the cold-weather months, I shake up sausage sandwiches by adding a blanket of cheese or a layer of seasoned beans. Served on best-quality breads, toasted briefly under the broiler, these are sandwiches that transition from weeknight meals to party fare – bring them out for parties, and you’ll win the day.
The pepper mixture from the first recipe keeps well in the refrigerator for several days. Since most days I am only cooking for two of us, I make a full recipe of the peppers and then make the sandwiches for two separate dinners. (You can also use the pepper mixture in omelets and salads, and over grilled chicken or burgers.)
A fresh lemon and garlic vinaigrette seasons canned white beans before you smear them on a toasted roll brushed with the same dressing. Golden, crisped sausage fill the buns beautifully. Or, spoon the beans on a warm plate, and top with the crisped sausages and a pile of baby arugula.