Why does everything that we grill outdoors just seem to taste better?
Is it the slight char? Is it the smoke that whirls around the meat or veggies that are searing away? Or is it the fact that the person turning the meat most likely was enjoying a cold beer while manning his/her post? Perhaps some of that beer accidentally became a basting sauce! Or is it a combination of all of the above?! I’m going with ‘all of the above’!
What comes to your mind when you think grill/BBQ? Steak, ribs, burgers? Yes to all of the above. But for me it’s sausage. Maybe it’s the German in me. Sure, I love a good juicy, rare steak, or drippy, sticky ribs, or a loaded cheese burger. But there is something so appealing about a perfectly spiced sausage, grill marks clear and defined, just waiting to be cut into. That distinct ‘cracking’ sound as the skin breaks open, and the juicy meat is just waiting to be enjoyed. Add some mustard, and this girl is all set.
I’ve partnered with duBreton to create a perfect meal showcasing their Rustic Pork Toulouse Sausages. I love a good Toulouse sausage. This style of sausage finds its origin in France. It is juicy, and perfectly balanced in flavours, with spices like nutmeg used to bring out the quality of the meat. Toulouse sausages are integral to a good French Cassoulet (to me one of the best winter slow living meals ever!) Seeing that we’re welcoming summer right now, I thought of another way to use these lovely sausages. Keeping up the international flavour of both this sausage, my German background, and the fact that we all love to explore cuisines, even if we aren’t going to leave our backyards, may I present an Alsatian twist to a classic potato salad?! You guys are going to love this one: Alsatian Grilled Sausage and Potato Salad with Sauerkraut.
If you ever get to visit Alsace (that little corner of the world between France and Germany) you will quickly realize that Choucroute Garni is practically their signature dish. Heaps of juniper berry and wine-braised sauerkraut is surrounded by sausages, pork belly, bacon, smoked pork hocks and chops, and boiled potatoes. Just add a variety of mustards, and the crowd can’t wait to dig into this impressive dish. I make it every year, and Jim looks so forward to it. So, I thought, why not use this as an inspiration for an easy, fun to throw together summer main salad?
The main ingredients are all accounted for: high quality gluten-free sausage (no meat scraps, by-products, or grain fillers in these duBreton babies, just 100% pork shoulder and spices!) lovely yellow-fleshed baby potatoes, and good quality sauerkraut. Did you know that the best and healthiest sauerkraut, besides the kind you make yourself, should be found in the chilled deli section of your grocery store? The live cultures are more potent, making the probiotic effects of sauerkraut more effective. Check out your local grocery store next time and you may be surprised to find a fabulous selection.
To make this a salad, we’ll need a dressing, right? So, a lovely light dijon mustard vinaigrette is the best way to go. It will marry everything together, absorbing into the tender flesh of the potatoes, without competing with the sausage or the ‘kraut. And for some visual interest, lets add some red onion, sliced radishes, and bright greens like arugula or even hand torn mizuna, which has a slight mustardy flavour.
This main meal salad takes two steps. But you can actually do them in stages, so that it isn’t one long process. You see, in order to get the perfect sausage: crisp and perfectly grilled on the outside, but still juicy and tender on the inside, I like to simmer sausages first. This way the meat is already perfectly cooked, and then a quick turn on a heated grill will turn that exterior into crispy golden perfection. It only takes a few minutes in simmering water to achieve cooked meat nirvana! I was so happy to see that the back of the duBreton package of sausages agrees with me:) Now, the artist in me wonders, should I slice them in half lengthwise before I grill them, or should I slice them into coins after grilling and resting? If I slice them first, then I can get a crisp and grilled interior, for more flavour! So that is what I opted for.
The potatoes will actually be prepared in a similar manner. Par boiling these little orbs will make sure that they are already tender before we skewer them up and add them to the grill. If we actually tried to cook potatoes from raw on the grill, the outsides would be dry and burnt before the flesh got nice and tender. But a quick swim in a simmering pot, we’ve eliminated any cause for worry or waiting!
So, both the sausages and the potatoes could be simmered and drained and cooled somewhat. And you can also prepare the sauerkraut ahead of time as well. Yes, sauerkraut needs some prep. Don’t eat it straight out of the jar. That’s just so wrong, at least to any self-respecting German! The brine can be very acidic and harsh, leaving the ‘kraut rather sharp tasting. That’s why some people just don’t like it. They’ve never had it served properly! We always put it in a sieve and run water over it first. Once rinsed, just add it to a pot with some water and perhaps a splash of white wine, and some sliced onion if you want. Bring it up to a gentle simmer just to cook off any harshness. This can then be stored in a container till you are ready to compose the salad.
When ready, heat up the grill and grill off the meat, just to get the flavour of a good char on the outsides. At the same time, you will add the skewers of par-boiled baby potatoes next to the sausages, to get them grilled to crispy perfection. That’s it!!
The rest is easy. A platter with greens is the bed for all that grilling goodness. Slice the potatoes in half (or thirds, depending on their size) and toss with some of the vinaigrette so that they can start soaking up that great flavour. Slice the sausages in half, just to make them manageable on your fork. Scatter some of the rinsed and simmered sauerkraut around the platter, add the sausages and potatoes, and sliced red onions, and finish with another round of the vinaigrette. Garnish with sliced radishes and fresh dill. Seriously, this is one summer dish that you will want to make all year round. It is a lightened version of Choucroute Garni, and totally less intimidating.
My feeling about using these wonderful sausages: We choose not to eat meat as often as we used to. I am really picky about where our meat comes from. When we do eat it, we want to know that the animals used had as happy a life as they could beforehand. I love that all of duBreton’s Certified Humane and Organic pork is from pigs that are raised with a simple philosophy: Allow pigs to be pigs! They are raised in crate-free environments, with access to shelter, hay or straw beds, sufficient space and ability to engage in a natural behaviours. Their farms follow strict hygiene practices, eliminating the need for antibiotics for disease prevention. And if an animal does get sick, it is carefully treated, but not returned to the organic or Certified Humane supply. And the part that makes me really happy is knowing that these pigs are provided hay for foraging, toys and play areas and live in comfortable and happy living conditions with more space, less noise and better air quality. All this to say, when we know where our meat, or any food for that matter, comes from, we are eating and sourcing more responsibly. It’s the least we can do. Thankfully, duBreton even includes a link to their best practices here.
This is a sponsored post in collaboration with duBreton. All ideas and opinions expressed are wholly mine.
Grilled Sausage and Potato Salad with Sauerkraut
This Alsatian inspired salad highlights quality Toulouse sausages and baby yellow fleshed potatoes, which are grilled to perfection, and then combined with tender and bright sauerkraut, greens and a mustard vinaigrette. It's a lightened up version of Choucroute Garni for the summertime
- 4 links of duBreton Toulouse sausages
- 16-20 baby yellow fleshed potatoes 4-5 per person, depending on size or make more and have leftovers!
- 1 1/4 cups packed sauerkraut rinsed and drained
- 2 tbsp white wine
- 1 tsp caraway seeds optional
- 2 large handfuls about 3 cups or arugula, baby gems or mizuna greens
- 2 tbsp thinly sliced red onion
- 3 medium radishes sliced
- 1/4 cup fresh dill torn
Vinaigrette (makes about 1 1/4 cups)
- 2 large shallots peeled and minced finely
- 1 tsp fresh thyme finely chopped
- 1 small garlic clove finely grated or minced
- 3 tbsp champagne vinegar can be substituted with white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp grainy mustard
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp water
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
To prepare the Sausages
Place the sausages into a large pot or saucepan and fill it with enough cold water to just cover the sausages.
Put the pot on the stove, turn the heat to medium-high, and cook just until the water reaches a gentle simmer—that should take about 6-8 minutes.
Turn off the heat and get those sausages out of the pot. The sausages are now cooked through, tender, and ready for step two, grilling.
Let them cool down. Carefully, using a sharp, serrated knife, slice them in half lengthwise.
Set aside on a platter.
To prepare the Potatoes
Place the potatoes into a pot of well salted water. Cover. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium, keeping a rolling simmer. Leaving cover slightly ajar, cook for about 10 minutes, or until a knife just slides easily into a potato.
Remove from heat, drain and set aside to cool a bit.
When cooled down, using 4 metal skewers, skewer 4-5 onto each skewer, leaving enough room to grip the end with. Place these on the platter with the sausages.
To prepare the Sauerkraut
Place the rinsed and drained sauerkraut into a medium sized pot, with just enough water to cover it, and add the white wine.
Bring to a boil, cover and then reduce to a low simmer. Simmer for a good 5 or so minutes to soften the cabbage. Drain well and add caraway seed (if using) and fresh cracked pepper. Set aside to come to room temperature.
Grill the Sausage and Potatoes
Preheat your grill to 400F or medium high. (alternatively, you can use a grill pan on the stove top)
When heated through, place the sausages, interior side down onto the grill.
Place the skewers of potatoes along side the sausages.
Turn after 5 or so minutes, checking the underside carefully to ensure that the grill marks are there. The potato skins should be just starting to get burnished.
Once both sides of the sausages are grilled, removed from the heat.
Turn the potatoes till each side is browned and crisped. Remove from heat and add to the sausages.
Prepare the Salad
Cut the sausages in half (only if you want to, not necessary)
Cut the potatoes into thirds or 4 slices (if larger) and place in a bowl. Dress with about 3 tbsp of vinaigrette. Toss. This will give the potatoes a head start in soaking up the flavours of the vinaigrette.
Place the rinsed and dried greens you are using on a large platter. Scatter the sauerkraut over this.
Place the sausages over the sauerkraut, and then scatter the potatoes over everything.
Scatter red onion slices over these.
Dress everything with another 1/4-1/3 cup of the vinaigrette (as much as you see fit!)
Garnish with radishes and dill. Add another good grinding of fresh black pepper.
This would be amazing with a good chilled Hefeweizen or crisp Riesling!
The dressing can be made well in advance and stored in the fridge. Remove from the fridge a good half hour before you need it to allow the olive oil to get it up to room temperature. The dressing makes enough for several salads, or for any other salads you will be throwing together in the week. It will keep a good month in the fridge.