These are the dog days


Published: Saturday, January 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 4, 2004 at 4:19 p.m.

Michael and Mark Kroeger, fifth-generation sausage makers, create 60 varieties of sausage at Findley Market in Cincinnati.

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The selection is plenty when it comes to buying sausages.

Kent Porter/NYTRNG

Facts

GETTING DOGGED

Sausages are available cooked or uncooked.

Fresh sausages must be fully cooked before serving. It's best to parboil before grilling or pan-frying so the casing won't split.

To parboil, place sausages in a heavy skillet. Cover with water and cook until the meat is gray throughout, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Drain and fry or grill over medium heat.

If you don't parboil, be sure to cook sausage slowly and thoroughly.

Hot dogs and most sausages labeled ''smoked'' are cooked during processing. Cooked sausages can be grilled, microwaved, reheated in a moderate oven or pan-fried.

Once the package is opened, they generally keep for about 7 days in the refrigerator.

Source: National Hot Dog and Sausage Council

They learned the craft from their father, who emigrated from Oldenberg, Germany. One of their favorites is Vidalia onion sausage, mildly sweet with Parmesan cheese and chunks of fresh Vidalia onion.

For potato sausage, they mix chives with coriander and pieces of potato. Corned beef is finely ground brisket seasoned with garlic, coriander, caraway, celery and fresh sauerkraut. Mildly sweet chicken tortellini sausage contains pieces of fresh tomato, spinach and tortellini pasta.

Like love, sausages have a language of their own. In England and Ireland, ''bangers'' - so called because of their tendency to pop during cooking if improperly made - are for breakfast. In Sweden, falukorv is served with potatoes or pasta. In New Orleans, Chef Susan Spicer spices a dish with Chaurice, a Spanish/Creole pork sausage containing four kinds of chili peppers.

At the Polish Market in Troy, Mich., Mark Kolynicz offers up to 140 different varieties of kielbasa, some made in-house, others imported. His beer smoked pork sausage, for example, is mildly flavored and lightly spiced with a blend of salt, brown sugar, onions, fresh garlic, black pepper, cayenne pepper, mustard seed, marjoram and paprika. He seasons Fall Harvest sausage with organic, dried apples and cranberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, maple syrup, salt and white pepper.

For 50 years, Bavaria Sausage in Madison, Wis., has produced sausages such as Munich Weisswurst-Bockwurst, a mild white wurst made from veal and pork.

Spolumbo's in Calgary concocts Whiskey Fennel sausage seasoned with fennel and Jack Daniel's, Turkey Pine Nut Sage, Chicken Sun-dried Tomato Basil and such unusual combos as Beef/Onion, Bison Fennel and Caribou Mountain flavored with Saskatoon berries.

Other sausage makers stuff casings with ingredients ranging from blueberries to ostrich meat, feta to sea scallops.

Hot dogs remain the most popular sausage in America. In 2003, $1.8 billion worth of hot dogs were sold in supermarkets, 4.9 million pounds in food service. Americans typically consume 7 billion hot dogs between Memorial Day and Labor Day, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council.

Hot dogs have strayed far from the traditional frankfurter. They are made from beef, turkey, pork, chicken, tofu, soy protein, nuts or a combination.

Always check the label. Hot dogs are 85 percent meat and 15 percent other ingredients such as water, salt, curing elements and spices. The United States Department of Agriculture demands that hot dogs be made from ''muscle meats'' just like ground meat. Other parts of the animal are called ''variety meats'' and, if used, must be on the label.

These are some of the most common terms, although there are hundreds from all parts of the world from Austin to Augsburg, from Alberta to Argentina.

Kielbasa: Generic Polish word for sausage, almost always made from pork. A few regional specialties are kabanosy (thin, air-dried sausage flavored with caraway seed), krakowska (a thick, straight sausage hot smoked with coriander and garlic), and wiejska (a large U-shaped sausage made with pork, veal, marjoram and garlic). In the United States, ''kielbasa'' is usually a form of wiejska.

Braunschweiger: German pork liver sausage, nearly always smoked.

Chorizo: Originated in Spain, made from coarsely chopped fatty pork, chili and mild Spanish paprika. Mexican and Caribbean chorizo contains ground pork, chili and other seasonings.

Andouille: Spicy heavily smoked pork sausage. In France and Germany made with intestines and tripe. Cajun style, the best known in the United States, is the spiciest. Made from pork butt or shank, sausages are smoked over pecan wood and sugar cane.

Bratwurst: In Germany, a fried sausage eaten with hot mustard and bread. In the United States, the term erroneously describes a sausage eaten in a sandwich no matter how it is cooked.

Weisswurst (literally white sausage): Made from veal and pork bacon, seasoned with parsley, lemon, onions, ginger and cardamon.

Greek Loukaniko: Smoked pork or lamb seasoned with salt, wine, fennel, orange rind, garlic, cinnamon, allspice, coarse black pepper and oregano.

Mettwurst: finely textured pork sausage flavored with salt, nutmeg, white pepper, ground celery, allspice, marjoram, caraway, coriander, brown sugar and mustard seed.

CORN BREAD SALAD WITH GRILLED SAUSAGE AND SPICY CHIPOTLE DRESSING

2 ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into large cubes

1 ripe avocado, cut into medium cubes

1/2 red onion, diced

1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley

1 pound fresh sausages, any flavor

1 cup corn bread cut into 3/4-inch cubes and toasted

To toast cornbread, spread cubes on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Grill sausage for 5 to 8 minutes on each side. Make sure it is thoroughly done. Slice neatly on the bias so they keep their shape.

To dressing add tomatoes, avocado, onion and cilantro or parsley. Combine. Add corn bread, toss gently and divide among 4 plates. Arrange a fan of sausage slices over the top and serve.

Makes 4 salads.

SPICY CHIPOTLE DRESSING

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)

1/4 cup chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, pureed

1 tablespoon ground cumin

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Makes about 1 cup.

- ''Best American Recipes 2003-2004'' (Houghton Mifflin, $26)

KRAUT SALAD

16 ounces sauerkraut, preferable not a canned variety

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1/2 small green bell pepper, chopped

1/2 small red bell pepper, chopped

2 carrots, shredded fine

2 celery ribs, chopped

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon mustard seed

Dash ground cloves

Drain sauerkraut, rinse and drain again. Place in a large bowl.

In small saucepan, heat sugar and vinegar until sugar dissolves. Pour over the kraut and toss well. Add water chestnuts, onion, both bell peppers, carrots, celery, oil, mustard seed and cloves. Toss again. Refrigerate, covered, for at least an hour. Serve chilled with grilled sausages. Will keep for several days.

Makes 6 servings.

- ''Smoke & Spice'' (Harvard Common Press, $16.95)

MUSTARD SAUCE

1 1/4 cups Creole mustard or other stone-ground mustard

2/3 cup mayonnaise

4 teaspoons prepared horseradish

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In small bowl, whisk all ingredients until combined. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. Serve with sausage or with seafood as an alternative to red sauce.

Makes about 2 cups.

- ''Cajun-Creole Cooking'' (Shearer, $18.95)

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