Smoked sausages are a grilling staple for barbecue parties, picnics, and road trips. A dish so simple and yet so delicious, smoked sausage never disappoints. Any home cook needs to know how to prepare a beautiful plate of smoked sausage.
While this delicious dish may appear simple on the outside, there’s more to this processed meat than meets the eye. In this article, we will be exploring different tips, tricks, and methods for creating the perfect smoked sausage every time, so you can become a master in the art of sausage smoking in no time.
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What Is Smoked Sausage?
But first thing first: What exactly is smoked sausage? Sausage is a form of ground meat usually made up of:
The meat is mixed with salt, pepper, and various other spices, depending on the kind of sausage. It is then held together in a casing, traditionally made of the intestinal lining. However, some manufacturers have elected the use of edible synthetic materials to help with costs.
Smoking refers to the flavoring, cooking, and preservation method used in most sausage preparation. The basic process of smoking involves exposing the food item to the smoke emanating from a burning material, almost always wood. This process gives the food a distinct “smoky” aroma and flavor, providing a delicious gastronomical experience every time.
So, putting two and two together, sausage smoking refers to subjecting raw sausages to the smoking process, making them ready for human consumption, giving them the signature flavors they are known for, and preserving the food for both short and long-term storage.
Tips for Perfectly Smoked Sausage
Let’s dive further into the different tips, factors, and tricks that will help you be a master in sausage smoking, making you prepare perfectly smoked sausage every time.
Choosing the Right Type of Sausage
As mentioned before, the many types and varieties of sausage depend on several factors, including the following:
- The types of meat used
- The kinds of spices used in the mixture
- The country of origin
All these factors contribute to the sausage’s flavor profile, texture, aroma, and kinds of dishes. It’s entirely up to you on which sausage variety you’d want to use, as all of them would yield great results.
For example, Italian sausages are, unsurprisingly, best used for pasta dishes. Meanwhile, Iberian and Mediterranean sausages, such as chorizo and kielbasa, work best with food that has a spicy flavor profile. Hotdogs and frankfurters are good all-rounders, perfect for any dish that calls for it.
Now that you’ve chosen the kind of sausage you’d like to smoke, now on to the next step, which is also the first step that would usually stump people:
Choosing the Right Type of Wood
Believe it or not, wood plays a vital role in determining the flavor profile of the final product. Different types of wood would often result in different intensities in taste and flavor, which, again, is entirely up to your preferences.
An important factor in choosing the right type of wood is that the wood used for smoking always has to be of the hardwood variety, a wood that comes from flowering trees, otherwise known as angiosperms. Because its counterpart, softwood, which comes from non-flowering trees called gymnosperms, produces significant quantities of resin.
Resin produces soot as a byproduct while burning, giving a strong, unpleasant, and harmful aroma.
The different types of hardwood used for smoking would yield a variety of flavor profiles. Sweet fruity flavors come from the following trees:
Meanwhile, oak, hickory, and walnut can yield more heavy flavors.
The wide varieties of sausages and the varieties of wood open the door to a world of different combinations and discoveries in sausage smoking. The world is the aspiring griller’s oyster when crafting new and unique flavors for their smoked sausage.
But of course, none of this knowledge would be practical unless one has the right equipment. That’s where the next step comes in:
Having the Right Equipment
In today’s modern age, more heavy-duty cooking equipment has become accessible to the everyday person, giving more and more people the opportunity to try out new and exciting ways to cook food, and sausage smoking is no exception.
Nowadays, most heavy-duty grills can also serve as a smoker, which is called an offset smoker. Offset smokers have two cylindrical chambers, with the main cylinder being the grill/smoking area and the smaller secondary cylinder being the firebox, which contains the burning wood.
While these offset smokers or “BBQ Smokers” may look intimidating and take up a lot of space, getting one is worth it for all the new food possibilities you’d open up by owning one.
Following the Right Cooking Procedure
While cooking is in many ways both an art and a craft, it’s also a science. Sausage smoking requires a fair amount of timing and a balance of temperatures. The sweet spot temperature you’d want your smoker to be at is around 225 degrees Fahrenheit or roughly 107.22 degrees Celsius.
When it comes to how long you should cook the sausages, that depends on how many servings you’re cooking and their size. Generally, one must turn them over every 45 minutes to ensure an even cook.
After which, using a meat thermometer is highly recommended, for it is the easiest and most direct way to determine the state of doneness of a sausage.
The general rule is they are ready when they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit or 71.11 degrees Celsius. And by that point, you have finally achieved a perfectly smoked sausage!
Frequently Asked Questions About Sausage Smoking
When it comes to smoking sausages, there are a lot of questions that any prospective griller may have. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to sausage smoking:
How long does it take to smoke a sausage?
As mentioned before, it depends on the size and amount of sausages smoked. Generally speaking, smoking them would take around two to four hours.
What temperature do you smoke homemade sausage?
The sweet spot to smoke sausages would be from 225 to 240 degrees Fahrenheit. You must wait until their internal temperature reaches around 160 degrees Fahrenheit or 71.11 degrees Celsius for it to finish.
How long does it take to smoke raw sausage?
The usual cooking time for sausage is around two to four hours.
What is the best way to smoke sausage?
Sausage smoking happens in an offset smoker, or “BBQ smoker.” Hang the sausages of your choice inside the smoking chamber, then place the wood of your choice into the firebox next to it and ignite it to get a fire going. After which, close the lid and let the smoke engulf and infuse the sausages with their rich flavor.
Keep the temperature at the sweet spot of 225-240 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t forget to turn over the sausages every 45 minutes to maintain an even cook. After two hours, check the sausages’ internal temperatures with a meat thermometer until it reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit. After which, turn off the fire, and you’d have made perfectly smoked sausage.