We thought it was about time we shared our recipe for the world’s best condiment: a tangy, spicy, meaty sauerkraut concoction made with beer that goes well with everything. We put it on cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, steak sandwiches … the list goes on. But we originally created this magical stuff while preparing for a good old-fashioned sausagefest.

Now, before you throw a sausagefest, you should know your weiners. Shopping for sausages can be confusing and if you’re a little unsure of what you’re looking at when you get to the butcher shop, don’t feel bad. Sausages come in all shapes and sizes and it’s often hard to figure out exactly what’s what. For that reason, we’ve put together a field guide to some of the most common encased meats out there.

Bratwurst: Brats are generally sold as a fresh sausage, which means the meat will need to be grilled for 15-20 minutes. Originally a German invention, bratwursts come in many different varieties. In America, “beer brats” are often the brat of choice. Companies will actually mix beer into the chopped meat before encasing it. Although they’re often boiled in beer, there is no reason you can’t treat it like any other sausage and let it cook on the grill.

Knackwurst (often misspelled “knockwurst”): The most popular pre-cooked German sausages around, knackwurst are essentially classy-ass hot dogs. They are made of pork and/or beef and have generally been smoked or boiled before being packaged. The name tells you everything you need to know: “knack” means crack and “wurst” means sausage. When the sausage has been grilled (or boiled if you’re lame) the skin should snap and an explosion of meaty goodness should ensue — hopefully in your mouth.

Polish Sausage (a.k.a. Kielbasa): Made in the Polish tradition, these are pre-smoked sausages that are usually made of pork. Often heavily seasoned with black pepper, these sausages will need minimal time on the grill. Since they’re pre-smoked, all you have to do is give the outsides a nice sear and warm them through to the center, and they will be perfect. A great way to bring a little sophistication to your plate when you’re grilling up hot dogs for the kids.

Italian Sausage: Italian sausage is usually sold as fresh pork sausage. The central flavor is typically garlic with fennel seed and/or anise. Many butcher shops or companies offer both hot and sweet varieties. While great for the grill, these sausages also go perfect for pizza and with eggs for breakfast. Spicy Italian sausage is our go-to when we’re trying to spice up a sausagefest.

No matter what kind of sausage we’re cooking up, we like to top it off with what we lovingly call the World’s Best Condiment. It’s quick, easy, and made with beer and bacon.

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Sausages with the World’s Best Condiment

2 thick-cut slices of bacon, cut into lardons
14-ounce jar sauerkraut
½ cup beer
1 Tablespoon tangy mustard
2 Tablespoons Sriracha

To prepare the condiment, warm a frying pan over medium heat. Cook the lardons in the frying pan until they are brown and crunchy. Add the kraut and stir to incorporate. Once the kraut has warmed, deglaze the pan with the beer — simply pour it into the pan and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bacon bits. Add the mustard and the sriracha. Stir and taste. If you want it spicier, add more sriracha.

To grill the sausages, prepare coals in half of the grill to create two different zones of heat.

For fresh sausages: Cook any fresh sausages directly over the coals, rotating often, for about 5 minutes or until the sausages have started to brown. Move the sausages to the side of the grill without coals, close the lid, and let the sausages cook for about 10 more minutes.

For pre-cooked sausages: Sear the pre-cooked and/or pre-smoked sausages over the coals for a couple of minutes, until the outsides have been slightly browned and they are warmed all the way through.

Remove all of the sausages at once and let the party begin.

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