Every die-hard griller and barbecue devotee regardless of their age loves sausage. Its versatility and variety have ensured that the humble sausage has become a perennial favorite on the menus of Michelin-starred restaurants and on backyard grills the world over.
But as anyone who has ever sampled the delicate array of extra flavor that it can add to link, dogs, brats, and more, will happily tell you you haven’t even started to explore everything that this delicious delicacy has to offer until you’ve tasted smoked sausage.
Hot Or Cold?
Before we even begin to delve into how you can smoke your own sausage, it’s important to know that there are two distinct, and incredibly different ways to smoke sausage, and even though we’re only going to focus on one of them, we’re going to take a cursory look at the other.
The first method is the one that doesn’t involve any, or maybe not quite as much as you’re used to, heat and that’s cold smoking. Cold smoking is used to add flavor to sausages that instead of being cooked, are cured through fermentation.
There’s no cooking involved in cold smoking, and all that the smoke that the sausages are engulfed in is merely used to add flavor to meat that’s already ready to eat.
It can be an involving and complex process, but it’s one that can also be infinitely rewarding. And if you haven’t already guessed, it’s the one that we’re not going to focus on. Mainly because, if we’re honest, we prefer to hot smoke our sausages.
Hot smoking involves cooking and adding flavor to sausages at the same time, and if you’ve ever eaten sausage at a smokehouse or barbecue joint, you’ll know exactly how good smoked sausage can be.
And the first thing you’ll need in order to start smoking sausage in the comfort of your own home is a smoker.
Choosing Your Smoker
While there are four different types of smokers that you can choose from, if you want to add real flavor to any sausages that you smoke, we always recommend that you avoid propane and electric smokers and choose either a wood pellet or charcoal smoker instead.
Trust us, you’ll get infinitely more flavor and taste from the smoke that wood pellets and charcoal make than you will if you rely on gas or electricity.
And while some dedicated smokers swear by the power of vertical smokers and the extra cooking and smoking space that they provide, unless you’re about to feed the entire neighborhood, you won’t need anywhere near that much space.
We’ve always put our faith in a Z Grills 700D pellet smoker, and it hasn’t let us down yet.
Selecting Your Fuel
One of the reasons that we prefer to smoke with wood is that with so many different types of flavor-filled pellets available, there’s a wood-smoked taste out there to suit every palate.
Charcoal can be an acquired taste, but wood offers something that everyone can enjoy. With your smoker in place and your chosen fuel ready to load it with, it’s time to get on with the serious business of smoking as much, or as little sausage as you want to.
Loading Your Smoker
Every smoker has a different amount of cooking space available in its main chamber, but the process of preparing your sausages to be smoked is universal and won’t change according to the type of smoker that you’re cooking them in.
It’s crucial that you leave at least an inch and a half of room between every sausage that you’re going to smoke.
This gap makes sure that there’s enough room for all of the heat that your smoker will make to reach and cook each sausage perfectly, and it’ll also ensure that they’re all drowned in the rich flavor that you’re looking for, as the smoke will have enough room to infuse each of them while it’s circulating around the interior of your smoker.
It’s Smoking Time
As soon as you’ve loaded the racks of your smoker with enough sausages to satisfy your appetite and those of any guests that you might be expecting, it’s time to start smoking.
Make sure that you load the smoker’s hopper (if you’re using pellets) or the box (if you’re using charcoal) with enough of the relevant fuel to create four hours’ worth of heat and smoke.
Then set the temperature gauge to two hundred and fifty degrees and the timer for four hours and press start.
Most smokers take their sweet time to reach the desired temperature, and by setting your smoker for four hours, you’ll give it thirty to forty-five minutes to reach the desired heat, and another three hours and some spare change to cook your sausages according to the three rules of smoking – long, low and slow.
Take A Hike
As soon as you’ve set the temperature and timer on your smoker, you can just walk away and let it do the rest.
The only thing that you’ll need to do is maybe turn the sausages every thirty minutes or so after your smoker has reached the temperature that you set. When the time is up, your sausages will be fully smoked and ready to eat.
If you’re a little nervous, or you’re a first-time smoker and want to make sure that you’ve done everything correctly you can always check the internal temperature of your sausages before you serve, or eat them.
And as long as they’re above one hundred and sixty-five degrees, they’re ready to eat. You won’t need to check, but if you feel like you do for your own peace of mind, that’s the number that you’ll need to see on your meat probe.
And, it really is as simple as that. Your sausages will be perfectly smoked and cooked, and your guests and any other company present can revel in the way that you just transformed the normally humble sausage into a feast that’s fit for the gods.
And as tempting as it might be to leave some for later, and as tasty as they will still be when they’re cold, it’s always better to eat your smoked sausages while they’re still piping hot.