Do ever wonder how many pounds of meat are tossed on the grill each summer?
I tried to find some statistics on the Internet but came up empty. But the numbers that I did dig up from Gourmet magazine, the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association and others (some information is couple of years old) indicate it must be a whole lot.
— Eighty-one percent of all U.S. households own a grill, and 47 percent use one at least one or two times per week during the summer.
— More than 60 percent of Americans are grilling year-round, and nearly half grill during winter months.
— Grill ownership increased 10 percent from 2003, with eight out of 10 households now owing an outdoor barbecue grill or smoker.
— More than 35 percent of women now are taking the tongs for gas grilling, up 6 percent from 2003.
— Forty-two percent of women are using electric grills, inching closer to men at 55 percent.
— At least 90 percent of families attend at least one barbecue party.
— About 40 percent of families throw parties that center on the idea of outdoor grilling.
One kind of meat that often finds its way to the grill is sausage, whether it’s brats, Polish, a homemade venison version or plain old hot dogs.
And nothing goes better with sausage on the grill than sauerkraut.
I was talking today with Senora Almquist, a friend from Cummings, N.D., about pairng sausage and kraut. Senora reminded me that you don’t need to grill your sausage, either. She said just the other night she browned some venison sausage in a frying pan and then baked it in the oven for a while before serving it with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes to her two sons and husband, Basil.
That reminded me of the way we used to have it when I was a kid. Dad used pick up some homemade hot dogs from Erickson’s Meat Market in Crookston (they were the best), and Mom would cook them in the oven in a generous portion of sauerkraut. Then, we’d have them with mashed potatoes. I just loved to mix the kraut and potatoes.
Now, I’m in the mood for sausage and kraut. And if I haven’t piqued your interest yet, here are a couple of recipes that will.
Grilled Brats With Riesling-Mustard Kraut
3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
½ onion, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
½ cup riesling
1 16-ounce package refrigerated sauerkraut, rinsed
¼ teaspoon each: salt, freshly ground pepper
4 poppyseed or other buns
Prepare grill for direct cooking. Cut lengthwise almost through bratwurst. Grill, turning often with tongs, until cooked through and browned, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat butter in large skillet. Add onion; cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in mustard. Stir in riesling; cook to reduce slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in sauerkraut, salt and pepper. Heat through. Place cooked bratwurst in buns; top with sauerkraut.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutrition analysis per serving: 495 calories, 61 percent calories from fat, 34 grams fat (14 grams saturated), 75 milligrams cholesterol, 1,885 milligrams sodium, 31 grams carbohydrates, 18 grams protein, 4.5 grams fiber.
Smoked Sausages with Apple-Fennel ‘Sauerkraut’
1 large fennel bulb and tops
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
½ teaspoon coarse salt
5 tart apples such as Granny Smith, peeled, grated
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more for buns
½ cup hard cider or apple juice
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
Freshly ground pepper
8 fully cooked smoked sausages
8 poppy seed hot dog buns or French rolls, split
Spicy brown or Dijon mustard
Trim off fennel stalks from bulb. Chop fennel fronds; reserve. Save stalks for another use. Cut bulb vertically into thin strips.
Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat; add the onion and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the fennel strips; cover. Cook until the fennel begins to wilt, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
Stir the grated apple and lemon juice into the fennel mixture. Add butter, stirring to mix well. Stir in the cider, reserved fennel fronds and caraway seeds. Cook until mixture is soft, about 5 minutes. Season with remaining ¼ teaspoon of the salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Remove from heat; set aside at room temperature to let the flavors mingle.
Heat the grill pan over medium heat; heat the broiler. Place the sausages on the grill; cook, turning occasionally to mark all sides of the sausage, until hot, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, brush insides of the buns with a little butter. Place buns cut side up on a baking sheet. Broil until lightly browned about 1 minute. Place 1 sausage and a generous spoonful of sauerkraut on each bun; serve with mustard on the side.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 491 calories, 52 percent of calories from fat, 28 grams fat (9 grams saturated), 50 milligrams cholesterol, 39 grams carbohydrates, 20 grams protein, 1,535 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.