The Trick For The Juiciest Grilled Sausages Is Poaching Them First

What do sausages and eggs have in common? At first glance, you may not be able to say too much regarding what, if anything, these two foods share. If we were to tell you the answer is that both sausages and eggs can be poached, you'd probably be even more confused.

While grilling sausages – whether they be hot dogs, kielbasa, or your favorite brand of smoked sausage — is a common and popular way to cook them, chances are you never considered poaching them. According to Serious Eat's J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, poaching your sausage should be the very first thing you do with them before they even hit the grill. Much like poaching an egg, the act of poaching a sausage involves cooking it in water over your stovetop. As Lopez-Alt explains, to properly poach your sausage, place the meat in a pot of cold water and slowly raise the temperature to 150 degrees. Once the water reaches that specific temperature, remove the sausage from the pot and finish cooking it on the grill as you normally would.

Why go through all this trouble? Doesn't it seem like more work when you could just toss the sausage on the grill in the first place? Let's answer that question with another question: how often do you find that your grilled sausages come out dry, tough, and overcooked? Poaching your meat can go a long way toward solving that problem.

Poaching your sausages keeps them from drying out

When you grill a sausage, you may find that parts of it seem "tougher" than normal. The sausage may not seem as juicy or it may seem dried out in some spots. While many factors could lead to a dried-out sausage, going the extra step and poaching the sausage before grilling it will help prevent that from happening. But how?

As you grill a sausage, the heat naturally begins to cause the casing around the meat itself to contract. This, in turn, causes some of the juices to leak out as the casing tightens– much like how juice leaks out of an orange when you press down hard on it. While this is unavoidable, it's when we try and cook the sausage to "doneness" that we find most of the juices have, by that time, leaked out. Poaching your sausage first allows you to "par-cook" it, letting the meat cook evenly throughout. This way, when the sausage finishes cooking on the grill, you don't lose that much flavor or juice since it wasn't on the grill as long.

But this method is not without its drawbacks. Even Lopez-Alt mentions that, while poaching ensures the sausage stays juicy, and plump without risking it becoming shriveled or dry, it doesn't exactly give it much flavor. Is there any way you can poach your sausage without losing any of its precious taste?

You can poach your sausage in different liquids

Poaching your sausage in water is a basic but effective choice. It gets the job done, but it also doesn't give the meat any sort of flavor. If you want to try the poaching method for yourself, there are many other different liquids in which you can poach your sausage.

If you've got a few extra beer cans laying around while you're preparing a cookout, you can actually poach or braise your sausage using beer. A very simple poaching liquid for your sausage can be made up of your favorite type of beer mixed with apples, onions, or any other vegetables that you have. Let the sausage sit in a pot full of cold beer and slowly raise the temperature to 150 degrees as you would with water. This will give the sausage a much stronger flavor to make up for the lack of smokey taste from the grill.

Even if you don't have or don't want to use beer, go with any other liquid that suits your taste. Chicken or beef stock will infuse the sausage with a much meatier flavor. Consider poaching it in your favorite wine. Or you could just add a few bouillon cubes to the water if all else fails. The trick isn't to "boil" the sausage in the liquid, but to let it slowly cook and absorb all the moisture and flavors before you finish it on the grill.