Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tailgating: Sausage, Peppers, and Onions

Getting Ready to Tailgate
I went to the Ravens/Patriots game this Sunday with a friend who was enjoying his first year of season tickets. My dad shares season tickets to Orioles games so I've taken him down to Baltimore to see the Red Sox destroy the Orioles a few times, so he thought that the opportunity to watch the Ravens play the Pats would be a good return of the favor. Of course he didn't say anything about the Pats beating my Ravens in overtime, but c'est la vie.

We both agreed that tailgating would be fun...  something I've never done before... so he purchased a relatively inexpensive portable gas grill, and I went about looking for a suitable recipe for tailgating. What I settled on is half recipe of something I've tried with good success on a full size grill: sausage, peppers, and onions. The basic idea is to put some partially cooked onions (microwaved) into a disposable little foil pan and layer on your peppers and sausages... then you cover with foil and cook the whole package on the grill to render some of the sausage fat into the onions before finishing the sausages and peppers directly on the grill. It's nice to keep everything in one package and most portable grills aren't going to have a separate burner for cooking the onions (though my friend's did). The following is adapted from a Cook's Illustrated recipe (sub required).
  • 1 large white onion, halved and cut pole to pole into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 medium green peppers, seeded and cut into 1/2" strips
  • 1 lb of sweet or hot Italian fresh sausages (4-6 links)
  • Hoagie Buns
  • Small disposable pan, small enough to fit on your little grill but big enough to hold everything
The night before:
  1. Combine onions, salt, and pepper in medium microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high power until onions begin to soften and tips turn slightly translucent, 4 to 6 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking (be careful of steam).
  2. Let the onions cool, and then transfer them to the disposable roasting pan. Place sausages and peppers in single layer over onions and wrap roasting pan tightly with foil. Put pan in the refrigerator until you're ready to leave.
At the tailgate:
  1. Heat up your grill for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Place roasting pan in center of grill and cook 15 minutes. Move pan to one side of grill and carefully remove foil cover. Using tongs, place sausages and peppers directly on grate. Grill sausages, covered, turning every 1 to 2 minutes, until golden brown on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Grill pepper pieces, turning once, until charred patches form, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Transfer sausages and peppers to platter and loosely tent with foil.
  4. Continue cooking onions, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates and onions begin to brown, 5 to 10 minutes longer.
  5. Toast your buns. Serve sausages on buns topped with peppers and onions.
Obviously, those times are approximate on the grill. I started pulling the pepper pieces off as they got nice char marks and just threw them in the pan with the onions. You also might prefer thicker slices of the peppers... the original recipe called for quartering the peppers... so they are easier to handle and don't risk falling through the grate, but then what do you do with those giant pepper pieces? Cut 'em up after, I guess?

Anyway, a nice and tasty recipe that's pretty easy to execute on a windy and blustery day with a beer in your hand.

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