College Kitchen: Sausage fest

Don’t worry about how the sausage is made. Just enjoy the product.

A spicy jambalaya with Andouille sausages.

Ichigo Takikawa

A spicy jambalaya with Andouille sausages.

Alexander Brodsky

Don’t believe the hype. For too long haters have maligned the contents of these glorious meat tubes we call sausage.

“Do you even know what goes into a hot dog?”

Yes, yes I do — love goes into it.

But the world of sausage extends past the pack of frozen turkey dogs you shamefully microwave because there’s nothing else to eat. Humans can do marvelous things with meat, spices and sausage casing.

Though most kinds of sausages can be eaten by themselves on a bun, incorporating them into dishes is an easy way of cooking more complex-tasting food.

Where you shop will determine if you can find precooked sausage versus raw. For many dishes, browning the sausage yourself imparts an essential, smoky flavor. But the precooked variety has its place. Precooked sausages can be more convenient, since all you have to do is heat them up before adding them to a dish.

Grocery stores will reliably stock your standard sausages: Italian, Polish, kielbasa and the like. If you’re looking to spend an extra buck or two, a specialty deli like Kramarczuk’s in Northeast carries almost every wiener under the sun.

 

Jambalaya

Half the reason you should make jambalaya is so you can say its name. Just try it out. I bet you can’t do it without using whatever you think a Cajun accent is.

This rice dish perfectly showcases everything good about Andouille sausage: It’s spicy, garlicky and peppery.

Though classic jambalaya also contains shrimp and chicken, this cheaper version omits them since the rice is filling enough already.

2 precooked Andouille sausages, sliced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeño, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups rice, uncooked
4 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, sauté the onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic and jalapeño. These three veggies form the so-called “holy trinity” of Cajun cooking. When the onions turn translucent, after about seven minutes, add the tomatoes and Andouille sausage and mix thoroughly.

Add the uncooked rice, tomato, paprika, cayenne pepper, thyme, salt and pepper. Mix so the rice is coated in the spices.

Pour in the chicken stock and bring the mixture up to a boil, then cover and let simmer until the rice is cooked, about 30 minutes. Taste the rice to see if it’s sufficiently cooked and seasoned.

 

Pinto beans with chorizo

Chorizo, a classic sausage throughout the Hispanic world, will jazz up even the lamest of foods. Any bland rice, potato or egg dish will benefit from the spicy pork mixture. Take any of your favorite breakfast foods and crumble a bunch of chorizo into it. Scrambled eggs? Add chorizo. Hash browns? Add chorizo.

Try to buy the uncooked variety so you can take off the casing and crumble the meat before cooking.

8 ounces uncooked chorizo sausage, casing removed, crumbled
20 ounces canned pinto beans, drained
1/2 onion, diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

In a large skillet, brown the chorizo in a bit of olive oil. Add the onion, garlic and jalapeno and sauté until soft, about five minutes.

Add the beans to the mixture, cover and let simmer for about a half hour, until the beans are entirely cooked through.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve alongside white rice and tortillas.

 

Proper brat preparation

Any sucker can toss some brats on the grill and talk about how “Midwestern” they are. Only a select few know the true secrets to unlocking maximum flavor from the mysterious sausage.

If you have a grill available, don’t brown the brats in a pan. Instead, simmer them in beer on the stove and finish them off on the grill, about three minutes on each side.

4 bratwursts
2 cans beer, just about any kind will do
1 large onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
4 brat buns — real thick bread, none of that flimsy hot dog garbage
Olive oil
Butter

In a large pot, brown the brats on all sides in the olive oil. Add in half of the onions. Along with half of the onions, pour in the beer and bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer until the brats are cooked all the way through, about 15 minutes.

In a separate pan, cook the onions and bell peppers in butter for about 10 minutes. Add the apple cider vinegar and allow it to simmer off.

Top the brats with the bell pepper mixture and add your preferred mustard.