All across the country, Fourth of July celebrations revolve around the grill. If you’d like to go beyond the usual burgers and dogs, without much extra effort, a variety of handmade sausages is a good way to go.
Anita and Bob Gokey are the fourth owners of Karl’s Sausage Kitchen & European Market in Peabody, which has specialized in sausages since 1958. A 2012 location change and expansion added on a cafe full of ready-to-eat treats — like their own fermented sauerkraut and German-style potato salad — but the main focus is still sausage. “We have in the case, on any given day, between 10 and 25 different styles of sausages,” Anita Gokey says. “On a typical day we have three styles of Italian, and then we’ll have at least five styles of bratwurst, in addition to other types of smoked sausages, depending on the time of year and season.”
How do you choose? We asked Gokey to share her top three picks for a July Fourth cookout: “One pick would be a Nürnberg sausage. It’s very lightly seasoned, like a frankfurter style, so great for kids or people who aren’t really sure about sausage. I also like the coarse bratwurst, again an all-pork sausage, light touch of caraway; it’s a nice mid-tone, it’s very approachable. The other one I really like is the Bauernwurst, which translates to ‘farmer’s sausage.’ It’s pork and veal; it’s lightly smoked. It’s like a hot dog on steroids. It has a lot more flavor than a frankfurter, but it’s fully cooked so it’s really easy to prepare for a barbecue and it has a terrific flavor.”
Now that you’ve got the goods, it’s time to cook them. “Some people like to boil or simmer in beer beforehand to shorten the cooking time, but from my perspective I say low and slow. You want to be on the grill 15 to 20 minutes, enjoying a beer while you are grilling. Take your time, and everything is sort of delicious at the end,” says Gokey.
Problems arise, she says, when people try to rush the process: “They turn [the flame] really high, and because you have a dense product that’s sort of thick in the middle, they take a while to cook. People will char-broil the outside while the inside is still pink, and then it gets really dry.”
If the weather isn’t cooperating this weekend, or you can’t get your hands on a grill, Gokey says there’s nothing wrong with doing the cooking indoors. “We have several styles that are actually fully cooked,” she says. “What we tell people to do is pop out the crockpot, put a layer of sauerkraut down — you are really just heating up the knockwurst — so it’s sort of a hands-free method for cooking the sausages.”
For fresh sausages, she says to throw them on a cookie sheet with a little oil and bake them. “They can roll around in the oven, you don’t have to be standing over the hot grill, and they are still fabulous.”
Karl’s Sausage Kitchen & European Market, 1 Bourbon St., Peabody, 987-854-6650, www.karlssausage.comCatherine Smart can be reached at email@example.com. Catherine Smart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.