All About Sausages

Classic Sausage and Peppers. Linda Larsen

Everyone who isn't a vegetarian loves sausages! They can be made of any type of meat, and are delicious, whether pork, beef, chicken, seafood, or a combination. 

There are four main categories of sausages: fresh; cooked and smoked; cooked; and semi-dry and dry. The sausages listed here are basically ground meat, seasoned and flavored, with added fat, stuffed into casings.

Bulk sausage is flavored ground meat, usually pork, that is cooked like ground beef, or formed into patties.

No matter which sausage you use, be sure to read the label for handling and cooking instructions. A sausage which is smoked or dried, for instance, isn't necessarily fully cooked and ready to eat without further cooking.

Many people are concerned about nitrates and nitrites, preservatives used in the making of smoked meat and sausages. These curing agents stop bacterial contamination, particularly Clostridium botulinum, and give the product a pink color and distinctive flavor. If you shop carefully, you can find products labeled nitrate and nitrite-free, although celery juice, which is usually used as a nitrate substitute, still forms nitrites, because celery juice contains sodium nitrate.

In the chart below, the ingredients listed for each sausage are generic. Specific brands of sausages may have slightly different ingredients; however, these ingredients are considered typical. Remember, if you are serving anyone in a high-risk group (elderly, very young, pregnant women, those with illness and immune problems), do not serve them deli meats and cured meats without heating them to 160 degrees F.

Even hot dogs are not safe to eat for those in this group until they are thoroughly cooked.

Oh, and Polish Sausage and Kielbasa are basically the same and are interchangeable; kielbasa is a polish word that means 'sausage'. One of the differences is that Kielbasa is sold in rings rather than separate links.

Just use the brand you like!

Sausage Types and Cooking Methods
Polish SausageFreshPork, beef, garlic, thyme or marjoram, pork fat, pepperSteam, Fry, Grill, or Bake to 160°F.
KielbasaFresh, SmokedBeef, pork, garlic, pork or beef fat, mustardSteam, Fry, Grill, or Bake to 160°F.
BratwurstFresh, sometimes smoked and cookedPork or beef, veal, dry milk, onion, garlic, coriander, caraway, nutmegSteam, Fry, Grill, or Bake to 160°F.
SalamiDry, CuredHighly seasoned: garlic, salt, pepper, sugar

Ready to eat

Sweet or Hot ItalianFresh

Sweet: garlic, sugar, anise, and fennel

Hot: paprika, chili peppers, onion, garlic, fennel, parsley

Steam, Fry, Grill, or Bake to 160°F.
Cervelat or Summer SausageCured, Smoked, Semi-DryPork, beef, garlic, mustard, mild spicesReady to eat
AndouilleSmokedPork, salt, very spicy, sugar, paprika, red pepper, garlic, sageReady to eat
AndouilleFreshPork, salt, very spicy, sugar, paprika, red pepper, garlic, sageGently sauté to 160°F.
Boudin BlancFresh, delicatePork, fat, eggs, cream, bread crumbs, seasoningsGently sauté to 160°F.
Boudin NoirPrecookedPig's blood, suet, bread crumbsReady to eat; better sautéed; check label for cooking instructions
KnackwurstPrecooked, smokedBeef, pork, lots of garlic, cuminReady to eat
LinguicaCured, smokedPork butt, lots of garlic, cumin, cinnamon, vinegarUsually ready to eat; check label
PepperoniAir-driedPork, beef, lots of black and red pepperUsually ready to eat; check label
ChorizoDry, smokedPork, cilantro, paprika, garlic, chili powder, very spicyUsually ready to eat; some must be cooked to 160°F before eating.
MortadellaSemi-dry, smokedCubes of pork fat, pork, beef, peppercorns, garlic, aniseSteam, Fry, Grill, Bake to 160°F.
Hot DogsCooked, Smoked, CuredCured beef and pork, garlic, salt, sugar, mustard, pepperMay be ready to eat, but for high-risk, groups, heat to 160°F before serving
BockwurstFreshVeal, pork, milk, chives, eggsSteam, Sauté, Bake to 160°F.
BolognaCooked, smokedCured beef and pork, garlic, saltReady to eat