There’s a local sausage maker that Eric and I are kind of obsessed with. Well, we are obsessed with their sausages. Is that weird to say? (Side note: if you’re a Richmond local and you haven’t tried anything from Sausage Craft/Salt Pork, do it. You won’t regret it.) We’ve been picking up a pack of sausage whenever we hit the farmers market, which means we’ve been eating sausage at least once a week.
In the “it’s summer, let’s grill everything!” mood I’ve been in lately, I of course wanted nothing else but to grill the sausage. You know what, though? Grilling sausage is not all it’s cracked up to be. Without being poached first, there’s almost no way to get a good sear on the meat without overcooking the inside. I know because we’ve tried. It seemed pointless to cook the sausages inside first and then build a fire only to sear them for a couple minutes. I mean, water certainly doesn’t add any flavor, so I just figured we could skip that step and end up with smoky, flavorful sausages that were only cooked on the grill. Man, I was so wrong. Without being poached first, sausages have a tendency to dry up when grilled. And really, no one wants a dried up sausage, do they?
After eating tasty-but-not-cooked-as-well-as-we-would’ve-liked sausages, Eric and I apparently had the same idea, because we both stumbled across the same Serious Eats article about grilling sausages. We decided to try again, this time with a new method: grill poaching. This yielded the most fantastically juicy and flavorful sausages, and we had a built in side dish. Double win. The sausage cooks in liquid on the grill, soaking up not only the flavor of the cooking liquid but also the smokiness of the grill. When cooked through, all they need is a quick trip to the grill grate to get wonderfully seared.
This method is one that can be used countless ways. We used red wine and a variety of tomatoes this time, and we’ve already discussed making a beer version next. I love grilled tomatoes, so using them was a no-brainer. Because I wanted tomato juices for poaching, I used some larger tomatoes, which I quartered, in addition to grape tomatoes. Garlic, red wine and fresh thyme all added flavor to the tomatoes. We used Cerdito sausages from Sausage Craft, but you can really use just about anything here. We all loved this meal, with Eric and I commenting repeatedly how good it was and how we couldn’t wait to make it again. You know something is really good when you get up from the table before dinner is over so that you can throw bread on the still hot grill and then use it to soak up the juices on your plate. The sausages were perfectly cooked, with that smoky flavor one expects from a charcoal grill. Bonus: the leftover tomatoes, blended with my immersion blender, made an awesome pasta sauce for the next night’s dinner.