The juices of Italian sausages flavor red bell peppers and onions when they’re all cooked together on the grill. Recipes below.
I said last week that I like cookbooks with lots of photos. Let me amplify that statement: I like cookbooks with lots of color photos. Printed on slick paper to bring out every nuance—flecks of herbs, the sheen of cooking juices on a roast, the trail of a bead of condensation on a chilled wine glass. So imagine how less than interested I was in a cooking magazine that features line drawings and black and white photos on non-glossy paper.
I know, I know. Cook’s Illustrated is one of the best cooking publications out there. They’re America’s Test Kitchen—it says so right there on the cover. They don’t just cook something a time or two and call it close enough for government work. They cook it again and again and again—I’ve heard “a hundred times or more” bandied about—until they get it exactly right. Food bloggers everywhere rave about it.
But there’s just something so Highlights for Children earnest about its look to me that I’ve never been able to get past. Visually, it’s the sensible shoes of food magazines for me, singularly uninviting.
Still, when our neighbors Tom and Michael raved about it over dinner recently, I thought it was high time I got over myself and check it out. What I found, of course, was a wonderful new [to me, at least] resource. Picking up the current edition shown here, in addition to a recipe for Better Grilled Sausages with Onions and a couple of variations on the theme that led to my own variation above, I found secrets for great grilled chicken, tips for keeping produce fresher longer, an exhaustive comparison of silicone spatulas, a baker’s dozen of quick tips and a whole lot more. All packed into 52 pages refreshingly bereft of restaurant reviews, travel articles and other distractions that crowd the pages of more and more supposed cooking magazines. Also bereft of advertising. Since that’s what I do for a living, I was somewhat ambivalent about that.
But what I really liked about my first issue of Cook’s Illustrated is that they don’t only tell you how to cook something, they tell you why certain steps and techniques work. And for that matter, why some don’t. So you don’t just learn to cook a dish, you learn techniques and tips you can use elsewhere.
Of course even though the title for this post says by the book, I had to tamper with the recipe. No big changes, mainly just treating the red bell pepper differently to integrate it more into the dish. If you want to see the thoroughly tested version of the recipe, pick up the magazine.
Grilled Sausages with Peppers and Onions
Serves 4, with possible leftovers
2 large onions, halved and sliced, about 4 cups
3 red bell peppers, cored, seeded and sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 pounds uncooked sweet or hot Italian sausages [see Kitchen Notes]
Special equipment: 13 x 9-inch disposable aluminum roasting pan, deep enough to hold sliced onions and peppers with sausages arranged in a single layer on the top.
Start charcoals for grill or begin preheating gas grill.
Combine sliced onions and peppers in a microwavable bowl and season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for about 4 to 5 minutes, tossing once halfway through. This will give vegetables the needed head start, so they’re not overly crunchy [see Kitchen Notes]. Transfer vegetables to disposable roasting pan and arrange sausages in a single layer on top. Seal pan tightly with aluminum foil.
Spread coals in a single layer and place roasting pan in the middle of the grill. Cover grill and cook for 15 minutes. Move pan to one side of the grill and carefully remove foil. Transfer sausages to grill, grilling directly over coals with the grill uncovered, for 5 to 7 minutes, turning frequently to brown on all sides. Watch for flare-ups, moving sausages as they occur. These should be minimal, since much of the sausages’ fat has already been rendered into the roasting pan. Transfer sausages to serving platter and tent loosely with the foil you removed from the roasting pan, unless it has blown into the neighbors’ yard.
Cover grill and continue cooking onions and peppers, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates and the onions begin to brown, about 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to serving bowl. Sausages can be served with buns and the onion and pepper mixture passed around as a topping. We preferred to make a bed of the vegetables and serve the sausages sans buns.
To nuke or not to nuke. Microwaving the peppers and onions gave them a headstart, making them quite limp by the time they were finished grilling. If you’d like crunchier vegetables, either greatly reduce the microwaving time or skip it altogether.
Pick a sausage, any sausage. Well, not any sausage, actually. Only choose uncooked sausages; the precooked ones will dry out too much. Cook’s Illustrated also advises that if you choose chicken sausages, which tend to be leaner, go for ones that contain cheese. The extra fat will keep them from drying out. And if you’re concerned about fat content, don’t grill sausages, at least not in this comparatively slow-cooking method.
In other cooking news, Teresa over at I’m Running To Eat recently made Marion’s dangerously delicious Linguine Non Carbonara and liked it so much she posted it on her blog—with the appropriate credit and links back here. Thanks, Teresa!
Also this week in Blue Kitchen, 7/9/2008
Word on the street: Sidewalk poetry. Graffiti takes a poetic turn on the streets of Chicago, at WTF? Random food for thought.
Jump jazz keeps the kitchen hopping. The Mighty Blue Kings bring an Uptown swing vibe to Blue Kitchen, at What’s on the kitchen boombox?