The fact is, almost every sausage you’ll find at the market has a good standard ratio of fat to meat. The result – a perfect balance between tender and juicy without giving up that familiar substantial bite. On top of this, popular sausage varieties are most likely seasoned to please most palates. So how could we possibly go wrong cooking sausages? Not by much really. But can we improve on something this simple? Yes, and by a noticeable margin.
Just like any other meat, sausages ideally have to cook at a specific temperature and time for them to achieve a perfect doneness. With sous vide techniques made possible at home, this precise cooking is no longer left to chance.
Start by setting the temperature for your water bath. Here’s a quick guide:
140F – extremely juicy but really soft
150F – still very juicy, smooth, a bit firm
160F – juicy and springy, much like what you’ll get from traditional cooking
Set a cooking time anywhere in between 45 minutes and 4 hours. I’ve found out that the differences you’ll get from extended cooking times won’t really be that noticeable at all until you go beyond the 4-hour mark.
Get the sausages in the sous vide bag with about a quarter cup of beer and a tablespoon of wasabi powder. Here’s where you get to add personal flavor to these sausages, so be creative. Instead of beer, you can go with wine, stock, soda, coffee. . . etc. In place of the wasabi, you may use pretty much any herb or spice you love. Garlic, shallots, lemongrass, thyme, sage. . .some essential oils maybe? Playing with these flavor components would, of course be easier if you’re working on a sausage that you’re already familiar with. Just go with ingredients which you think will complement or even enhance a particular sausage’s flavor profile.
Get the packed sausages into your water bath. They may float around so having a clip or maybe a heavy spoon to keep them weighted and submerged will help the sausages cook evenly.
While they’re cooking, whip up a condiment or sauce to go with your sausages.
Having wasabi in my sous vide bag, I’ve decided to prepare a Japanese-inspired teriyaki onion marmalade. I’m just basically caramelizing thin slices of white onion in some “teriyaki” flavor base – soy sauce, sugar, Japanese Rice Vinegar, grated ginger, and black peppercorns. Just get everything to a simmer until the onions are tender to your liking. Add more water and leave them to dry out longer for a smoother marmalade.
I’ve used a liter of water for this recipe, let it reduce totally, and the onions came out exactly in between soft and a bit crunchy.
Once the sausages are done, get them ready for the final sear. You’ll want them to crisp up nicely on the outside, so drying them up would really be advisable.
Get a skillet or a grill smoking hot and drop the sausages in small batches. You’ll need to keep the temperature in your pan high to create that perfect sear.