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Old 08-22-2009, 08:43 AM   #1
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Best Way to Cook Italian Sausage?

Hello everyone!

I've recently started making my own marinara sauce and my family loves it! I used it in my baked ziti recently and it was also a big hit. I'm making baked ziti tomorrow for our Sunday dinner and I would really like to serve it with some sweet italian sausage. Usually I brown my sausage in a frying pan then add it to my sauce and cook it for like 4 hours. In this case, my sauce is already made.

So, what is the best way to cook the sausage to serve with the baked ziti? I have a favorite restaraunt where I always get baked ziti with sausage and the sausage is so good . It doesn't look like it was ever browned in a pan at all.

Thanks in advance for any advice!

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Old 08-22-2009, 09:02 AM   #2
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Cook it completely in the pan. Brown it as always in the pan and finish it in the oven. Cook it on the grill.
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Old 08-22-2009, 09:51 AM   #3
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Thanks. I'd like them to not be "browned". I guess that the ones I get in the restaurant might be steamed? They are smooth and juicy and perfect... man, I'm hungry for them right now!
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Old 08-22-2009, 09:54 AM   #4
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Sorry, I misread your post.

The great flavor you got from the restaurant's sausages may be in the sausage rather than the cooking method.

Steaming is the only way I know that you can insure they will not brown. Even if you cook them in the oven from start to finish, there will be a little color.
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Old 08-22-2009, 10:45 AM   #5
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What I do sometimes when cooking turkey or chicken Italian sausages is to start them off in a skillet with about an inch of water & a dash of extra-virgin olive oil. I cook them in that, covered, checking & turning occasionally, until they're "just" done, then uncover & let the water cook off to allow them to brown. I imagine you could do the same thing, but just cook them completely in the olive-oil laced water.

Oh - & pierce each sausage in a few places to help keep them from bursting during cooking.
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Old 08-23-2009, 07:13 AM   #6
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I usually do them on the grill or in a frying pan - but- I was having a big gathering and that was the only thing I had to grill and didn't want to work the grill. so I lined them all up in a 13 x 9 bake dish covered them and baked them, when they looked almost done I uncovered them and put sliced onions and peppers on them and baked again till they we done. Sauages came out juicy and tender and the onions & peppers came out great absorbing flavors of the sauages.
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Old 08-23-2009, 07:33 AM   #7
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If you cook your sauce for 4 hours then you can jut put the raw sausage right into the sauce and cook it all together. It will not brown that way and all the flavor will incorporate into the sauce.
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Old 08-23-2009, 08:36 AM   #8
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As I understand it, your sauce is done, you want to add sausage, assembling ingredients to make a baked ziti, right? Can you just simmer/poach the sausages in the sauce, if it's too reduced to start with, add some water. You are going to need to cook the sausage, and don't want it browned, so steaming them poaching them would be good. If you want to use the cooking liquid to add to your sauce for added flavor, great, or just use the sauce to simmer the sausages. Or just poach your sausages in water. and add them to your sauce.
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Old 08-24-2009, 02:37 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by letscook View Post
I usually do them on the grill or in a frying pan - but- I was having a big gathering and that was the only thing I had to grill and didn't want to work the grill. so I lined them all up in a 13 x 9 bake dish covered them and baked them, when they looked almost done I uncovered them and put sliced onions and peppers on them and baked again till they we done. Sauages came out juicy and tender and the onions & peppers came out great absorbing flavors of the sauages.

I have done it this way too.. its terrific. after all that is cooked, pour the marinara sauce over the top, top with cheese and place back in the oven until the cheese melts and browns a bit!!!
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Old 08-26-2009, 06:52 AM   #10
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Thanks to everyone for the advice on this!

Well, I decided to make a new batch of sauce and cook the sausages in it. I dropped the raw sausages in and cooked the sauce for 5 hours. The texture and flavor was exactly what I was looking for - fantastic. But... I don't think they were quite done. I poked one with my thermapen and it was 155 degrees. Then I cut it in half and it looked a little pink to me. I had to nuke them for a bit to feel safe about it.

I served the baked ziti with a bowl of extra sauce and the sausages on the side and it was great.

I had my stove (electric) on low for the 5 hours... was that my mistake? I really would like to perfect this, it's one of my favorite meals.

Thanks
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Old 08-26-2009, 09:16 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by jcv View Post
Thanks to everyone for the advice on this!

Well, I decided to make a new batch of sauce and cook the sausages in it. I dropped the raw sausages in and cooked the sauce for 5 hours. The texture and flavor was exactly what I was looking for - fantastic. But... I don't think they were quite done. I poked one with my thermapen and it was 155 degrees. Then I cut it in half and it looked a little pink to me. I had to nuke them for a bit to feel safe about it.

I served the baked ziti with a bowl of extra sauce and the sausages on the side and it was great.

I had my stove (electric) on low for the 5 hours... was that my mistake? I really would like to perfect this, it's one of my favorite meals.

Thanks
Jay

IF you're slow cooking sauce, it needs to be hot enough to maintain safe temperatures. You should be adjusting the heat so simmering occurs. Not as hot as boiling, with furious bubble activity but a slow steady bubbling activity. This will ensure cooking continues.

At 155 F intermal temperature, the sausage was safe to eat. The pinkness is probably due to nitrites in the sausage.
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Old 08-26-2009, 09:32 AM   #12
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great! Thank you.

I needed a little more heat. It should be perfect next time.
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Old 08-26-2009, 11:22 AM   #13
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I'm not an expert at traditional Italian "gravies", but somehow your method doesn't sound safe to me. Five hours on low? That's just "warm" on my stove - not meant for actual cooking. And in all the traditional slow-cooked meat Italian sauce recipes I've come across, they're never dumping completely raw meat into the sauce - it's always been at least browned/seared or otherwise partially cooked first.

I'd also be a bit leery of the 155 temp. But then I always cook with poultry sausages, & consider an internal temp of 170 to be the bare minimum.
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Old 08-26-2009, 12:22 PM   #14
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Natural casing sausage are water proof. Par boil and add to the sauce before serving.
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Old 09-01-2009, 05:00 AM   #15
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My husband likes his Italian sausage "blown out" (his words). That is to say, he likes me to cut it in 1 or so inch sections (with what I buy locally I cut it into quarters, maybe 6ths), then fry at a relatively high heat (I'll usually throw in an onion or two and maybe a pepper). The blown out refers to the fact that the meat kind of starts to stick out of the casing. THEN I toss in some tomato sauce. I make my own, but if you have a prepared one you like, go for it. Toss it over your favorite pasta, and added to a light salad, you have a meal for a king (Oh, dear, I forgot to mention some good parm, asiago, or romano grated over the entire meal).
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Old 09-01-2009, 09:52 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BreezyCooking View Post
I'm not an expert at traditional Italian "gravies", but somehow your method doesn't sound safe to me. Five hours on low? That's just "warm" on my stove - not meant for actual cooking. And in all the traditional slow-cooked meat Italian sauce recipes I've come across, they're never dumping completely raw meat into the sauce - it's always been at least browned/seared or otherwise partially cooked first.

I'd also be a bit leery of the 155 temp. But then I always cook with poultry sausages, & consider an internal temp of 170 to be the bare minimum.
I've found out recently just how different electric ranges can be. My Frigidaire glasstop died, and we replaced it with a Samsung, also a ceramic glasstop. The old one was slower to heat up, but it was easier to simmer with. The new range is faster, has some nice features, but I have to turn the heat a lot lower to get a good simmer going. The Frigidaire had a simmer setting just above the low mark, and it worked great. The Samsung does not have a simmer setting, and the low mark is actually still a bit too high for a good simmer... I have to turn the dial below low to avoid burning any tomato based sauce.
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Old 09-03-2009, 12:31 PM   #17
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I love it on the grill - or crisp it up in a cast iron skillet. Yum!
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