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JeanMarie Brownson: Kick off summer with grilled sausages and good company

JeanMarie Brownson, Tribune Content Agency on

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer and proves the perfect time to gather with friends. The goal is to spend as much time as possible outdoors. The food and drinks for the occasion should be easygoing. Especially for the cook.

Over the years, we’ve learned to be flexible, the weather might not always cooperate. If it’s sunny, fire up the grill and cook over an open flame to get that char and flavor. Storms on the menu? Employ a hot oven as a grill alternative.

This year we’re cooking up a platter of assorted sausages — everything from garlicky thuringer to smoked Polish sausage, spicy andouille, mild bratwurst and Bockwurst. If the crowd dictates, we add in all-natural beef hot dogs and seasoned chicken sausages.

To keep the cooking time to a minimum, select fully cooked sausages. These varieties only need a brief time browning on the grill or in the oven to render them hot and juicy. For interest, offer a variety of breads to create sandwiches, such as poppy seed rolls, hearty sausage buns and segments of fresh French baguette.

Set out several condiments, including prepared fresh horseradish, ketchup and a variety of mustards and barbecue sauces. Arrange small bowls of pickled sport peppers, sweet and dill pickles, fresh tomato wedges and lettuce for guests to customize their own sandwich.

Serving one or two homemade toppings proves a welcome addition. One option is to stir prepared horseradish and Dijon mustard into sour cream as a topping delicious with smoked sausages.


Our favorite bratwurst and hot dog topping starts with golden, sauteed onions sweetened with apple and made tangy with whole grain mustard. These mustardy sweet onions will keep refrigerated for a week or more. It’s also a great condiment to have on hand for burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches and as a topping for grilled pork chops or turkey cutlets

Baked beans, loaded with bacon and sweetened with maple syrup, are standard picnic fare. As an alternative, we’re mixing red chile-spike cabbage with jumbo lima beans, aka butter beans. These spicy beans can be made several days in advance and reheated in the microwave oven.

Cook at least the number of sausages as you have guests; we have a few friends who will happily eat two or more. Plan accordingly and know that leftovers taste just fine.

Grilled Sausages with Mustardy Sweet Onions


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