Jul 8, 2012

Sausage vs. Bratwurst vs. Kielbasa

An Irishman, a German, and a Polish guy are standing in a garage, each enjoying a cocktail and cigars... Yeah, it sounds like the beginning of a good joke, but it describes how my evening started. We had a very heated conversation about what the differences are between sausage, bratwurst, and kielbasa. Fortunately I had my HP tablet with me, so we searched the web. Turns out that they are all the same. We all had to come to the conclusion that we were all right, toasted, and have some suggestions on how to prepare them.

"Bratwurst" is best explained by Wikipedia as:
from brät-, which is finely chopped meat and Wurst, or sausage.
 "Kielbasa" is best explained by Wikipedia as:
in Polish “kielbasa” simply means “sausage
 "Sausage" is best explained by Wikipedia as:
made from ground meat (normally pork or beef), mixed with salt, herbs, and other spices with a tough skin around it
The only true "differences" between all of them are the meats and herbs/spices that are used in them. The process is the same. I'm not going to make you scroll down a lot to see any of the differences, use the links if you are interested. Now read on for the suggestions we all had for you in dealing with sausage/brat/kielbasa links:

Care / Prep
Put the links in the fridge as soon as you get back from the store.
Use them within 2 days or simply freeze them for future use.
Eat cooked links within 4 days and put them in the fridge within 2 hours of cooking them.
The internal temp of a cooked link should be above 165 F / 74 C. Use an instant thermometer.
Never thaw frozen links on the counter. Fridge overnight, microwave or use a Hot Water Bath.
Use a different cutting board for your veggies, never chop them on one where you've cut raw meat.

Use a medium or medium-low setting to prevent the casing from splitting open.
NEVER boil a link, poach it instead. Bring the water to a boil, turn it down to simmer. Put the links in and let sit for 30-45 minutes. Boiling will cause the links to shed their casing. Make sure you turn them every 10 mins.
Poach links before grilling. That insures that they are cooked, the grilling just adds flavor.
Do NOT pierce the casing while cooking, as it lets all of the moisture out, causing them to be dry.
If the casing does split, use tongs to remove the casing before serving.

Side Thoughts
Poach the links, Spiral Cut them, marinade, then grill.
Blood pudding (my FAVORITE breakfast side) is nothing more than sausage made with the addition of animal blood.
The butcher offers ground (non-encased) versions of the meat that can be used like ground beef. This adds flavor to the dishes you make. Purchase it in bulk instead of just "ground beef."
Serve on a steak bun, to allow room for the extra veggies you grilled.

Bottom line, save a bite or two to give to your dog... they'll appreciate it deeply...

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