Summer sausage is a common term for any sausage that has a long shelf life. Typically made of pork and beef combined, this tasty treat is a favorite of many.
Traditionally, summer sausages were cured, dried, and smoked to ensure no harmful bacteria could jeopardize the safety of the meat.
Although it’s fermented, you may wonder if cooking summer sausage is necessary to ensure its quality and safety. The answer is no, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. This article will discuss the preparation process of summer sausages and explain what situations you can cook them in.
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Are You Supposed to Cook Summer Sausage?
Summer sausage was developed in Europe hundreds of years ago when there were no refrigerators. People had to preserve meat even during warm weather, hence the name.
The traditional preparation of summer sausage involved curing, drying, and smoking.
The curing process involved adding salt and other ingredients that lower the pH of the meat, thus preventing the growth of harmful bacteria.
The sausages are then dried and smoked to eliminate water and keep the meat fresh for a long time.
Summer sausage is often found on charcuterie boards and in sandwiches. Since it’s dried, cooking summer sausage isn’t required, and you can consume it right after you buy it.
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t cook or fry it.
If you want a hot meal, summer sausage can be prepared in several ways and combined with other dishes.
How Long Does It Take to Cook Summer Sausage?
As mentioned earlier, it’s not necessary to cook summer sausage.
That being said, the cooking time is relative and depends on multiple factors such as the method you’re using, your preferences, temperature, etc.
If you cook summer sausage, use low or medium temperature. If cooked at higher temperatures, the fat will melt, and you’ll end up with dry and bland meat.
Ideally, cook the sausages at low/medium heat for around 10-15 minutes. Don’t forget to turn them over regularly to ensure they’re evenly cooked.
Grilling summer sausage typically take around 12-15 minutes at medium/high heat. As with cooking other meats, turn them frequently to get even doneness.
You can also oven bake or fry summer sausage, depending on what you like. Although meant to be consumed fresh, summer sausage can add a dash of flavor to every meal.
What Is the Best Way to Cook Summer Sausage?
The answer to this question is entirely individual and depends on your personal preferences, but we will discuss some of the most popular ways of cooking them.
If you want to keep the smoky taste, grilling is an excellent option. Use medium to high heat and ensure you turn them over regularly.
Grilled summer sausages are amazing when combined with grilled cheese or potatoes.
For a quick and easy hot meal, pan-fry summer sausages with vegetables or potatoes. The sausages’ strong flavor will pass on to the other ingredients, and you’ll enjoy a warm, delicious meal prepared in just a few minutes.
Oven-baked summer sausage is another tasty treat that goes well with vegetables, rice, potatoes, etc.
The cooking time and temperature depend on what you like but try to stay at low/medium temperatures to preserve the fat.
I recommend using baking sheets and adding some oil to ensure your sausages don’t become dry.
How Do You Cook Summer Sausage on the Stove?
If you’re trying to avoid frying and using oil, cooking summer sausage on the stove is a healthier way of preparing your meat.
Although it may seem easy, cooking sausages can be tricky because you want to ensure you take them off the stove at the right time.
Here are the steps to cook them perfectly:
- Put summer sausages in a skillet, saucepan, or pot.
- Add cold water to cover the sausages and use medium heat.
- When the water reaches a simmer, cover the pot.
- Keep cooking them for another 8-11 minutes.
- Then, remove the lid and cook until the water evaporates.
Can You Fry Up Summer Sausage?
Frying summer sausage is quick and relatively easy, but keep a few factors in mind.
First, ensure you don’t fry the sausages at high temperatures, as too much heat will cause the fat to dry up. Instead, use low or medium temperatures.
Once the sausages heat up, they’ll release some of the fat. Use it to coat the sausages while frying to get the best effect. Fry them for about 15-18 minutes until they are crispy.
Turn them over frequently to ensure they are evenly fried.
Always fry your sausages in a non-stick pan. Before putting them in, check the casing. Sausage casings can be made of various materials: collagen, plastic, cellulose, animal intestines, etc.
If your meat came from a store, check whether there is a casing and what material was used.
Although all casings are safe to eat, you shouldn’t consume some of them. Plus, some materials don’t react well to high temperatures and can jeopardize the flavor.
Finally, we recommend peeling off collagen casings, as they are thick and hard to chew.
Can You Cook Summer Sausage in the Oven?
Another way to prepare summer sausage is to bake them in the oven.
Preheat your oven to around 375° Fahrenheit (190° Celsius), put the sausages on a baking tray, and bake them for about 15 minutes.
Note that not all ovens are the same, so you might need to adjust the baking time a bit. Also, don’t forget to turn the sausages halfway through cooking to get an even taste.
Finally, I recommend adding some oil or butter to prevent the meat from drying up.
Cooking summer sausage in the oven is an excellent option if you’re preparing something else and want to save time. I have a whole article on this – check it out here!
Summer sausage is cured, dried, and smoked, which is why it can be consumed right after you buy them. It’s usually served on sandwiches and charcuterie boards.
Although not necessary, cooking summer sausage enables you to create a quick hot meal when combined with other foods. Depending on what you like, you can prepare it in multiple ways.
Regardless of what you choose, one thing is sure – summer sausage is a delicious treat that goes well with all kinds of food.