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I love fried sausage with breakfast; it goes great with bacon. But I've always been a little freaked out about under cooking sausage and I don't prefer cooking the crap out of it. Is there a fool proof way of frying sausage, and if not are there any guidelines?

And for bonus points can I get away with frying it in a stainless steel skillet?

Update: I guess the meat of my question is: How do I know when it's cooked enough for eating?

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8 Answers 8

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Since you love bacon, I strongly recommend getting a George Foreman grill. That way, you can cook both bacon and sausage at the same time. I'd slice the sausage to about 1/4-1/2" thick and lay them on the grill. Takes less than 10mins to cook both bacon and sausage, and you don't have to flip either. Another good thing about the grill is that the slanted surface drains the grease.

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This is great! I have a George Foreman grill sitting in my cupboard. Guess what I'm breaking out when I get home? Thanks for reminding me Jin. I'll post back about my experience. –  Jonathon Watney Jul 16 '10 at 20:49
    
This method was dead simple and worked perfectly. The definition of fool proof. –  Jonathon Watney Jul 17 '10 at 21:34
    
+1 from me - I own the George Foreman 360 Grill (amazon.com/dp/B001G8Y3RG) and it is amazing. I've used it to cook omelettes AND pizzas on, in addition to its "normal" uses –  Rob Jul 26 '10 at 17:32

If you cook the sausage low, slow, and covered (with a few table spoons of water and/or onions) until properly cooked then brown to desirable crispness you are guaranteed to be eating fully cooked sausage.

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I always use this method, it does not compromise flavor and it's the safest way. You can never burn the outside because you don't have to wait for the inside to cook while browning. –  Nick Jul 16 '10 at 20:57
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+1 - A small amount of water helps a lot. –  s_hewitt Jul 16 '10 at 21:09
    
long and slow is the best way. you can develop that sticky brown coating on the sausages. heaven. adding onions and a little can make it into a heavenly meal. –  Sam Holder Jul 20 '10 at 17:14
    
Also, I love the texture that a little water for steam seems to add to the sausage. –  Sean Hart Jan 12 '11 at 20:29

Cast iron pan dedicated to cooking meat. Once the pan is seasoned well, you need very little oil. If you fry bacon, you can simply use its oily remnants. Would recommend medium to medium-high temp. Fry until golden brown on outside and fragrant, and slightly firm. Don't be afraid to cut into one to see if the inside is finished adequately, then you will learn a timeframe that works for you.

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@T. Elf: How do I determine if it's "finished adequately?" This probably comes down to a personal preference so is there anything that's too pink? –  Jonathon Watney Jul 16 '10 at 20:56
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I have to say I generally do cut into the sausage to check for finish. DO cook through, no pink. Wurst, for example, has an adequate amount of fat in it that it is actually difficult to overcook. Lid over grill pan works, poke the casings first. –  T. Elf Jul 16 '10 at 22:32

I don't know if it's 'foolproof', but one trick I've used, when I'm not rushed, is to put some water in the pan -- you'll render off the fat in the sausage, and once the water boils off, you'll be able to brown the outside of the sausage in the rendered fat.

And yes, you can even use a stainless steel pan for this.

... and it'll take longer to cook, as you have to take the time to boil off the water. It helps to use a pan that's not much larger than what you're cooking, so you don't have to boil off lots of water.

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I adopted a slow frying method recommended by some web site or other, and I've since stuck to that, except when I'm in a rush, because it's foolproof. It takes an hour, but needs very little attention during that time.

Don't prick the sausages. Fry with a tiny coating of oil, on the lowest flame you can achieve, for an hour, turning the sausages a few times.

With this method, the sausages are thoroughly cooked through. You get beautiful sticky caramelisation on the outside, and the inside remains moist and delicious.

Since the skin won't split, pretty much all the fat remains in the sausage (which is why they'll be moist) -- so this technique is best for high quality sausages.

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You should be able to tell by plumpness, color, smell and if in doubt, taste.

Additionally, if you suspect they are done but aren't sure... give them a prick with a fork. If the juices run clear, you should be good to go.

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That's good to know. I'll give that a shot. –  Jonathon Watney Jul 16 '10 at 21:14
    
Heh, and watch out for them spitting at you when the liquid hits the hot oil! Oh, and Kudos for not cooking them on too high a heat. It's an easy mistake to make and you know what it does - causes undercooked sausages. Why? Because the skin cooks fast and turns into an insulator thus preventing the heat reaching the core. –  octonion Jul 16 '10 at 21:30

I recommend a 6 dollar digital thermometer, available at your local grocer: you'll use it all the time once you have one. For the record, 140F for 10 minutes, 160F for one minutes is food safe. Pork is still going to look pink at 160F, so you're probably fine if you're at all squeamish about this.

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I haven't tried it recently, but I always had problems with the sausage skin sticking to the pan. I always cook bacon on our George Forman-type grill and sometimes do sausage on it, but these days when I have sausage I usually buy a big package of sausage meat and either slice or form it into patties and fry those. The patties fry fine in a stainless pan w/ grapeseed oil.

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