Sausage is one of the oldest types of methods of processing meat and was created in order for butchers to efficiently make the most out of every animal product. Now, nearly every culture has their own version of a sausage. These five sausages, come from a wide range of cultures and cuisines, are some of the most common kind you'll come across in the United States.
Though most people associate andouille with Louisiana creole and cajun cuisine, it actually originated in France. Andouille is known for being as a main ingredient in gumbo and jambalaya. Traditionally, andouille was made by using the entire digestive tract of a pig. However, in the United States, the sausage is made with pork butt. To get its signature spicy and smoky flavor, the sausage is doused in spices like cayenne, garlic, paprika, and thyme and then double smoked, once before the casing is stuffed and once after.
Store-bought andouille typically comes pre-cooked because it's double smoked. Because of this, you can slice it up and eat it as a snack or serve it as an appetizer. When cooking jambalaya or gumbo, all you need to do is slice up the andouille and add it to the rest of the dish. If you do come across unsmoked andouille at the store, you can either cook it in its casing or remove the casing and cook it like ground beef.
Kielbasa, sometimes referred to as Polish sausage, is, you guessed it, sausage that originated in Poland. In Poland, kielbasa doesn't refer to a specific type of sausage, just sausage in general, so if you go sausage shopping in Poland, you need to know what you're looking for beforehand. In the United States, however, identifying kielbasa is pretty easy – it's the horseshoe-shaped smoked sausage you can usually find at most grocery stores.
Store-bought kielbasa generally comes already smoked, so technically it is ready to eat, but it tastes best heated up. If your kielbasa is partially smoked or unsmoked, you will have to cook that too. There are many different ways to cook kielbasa – you can grill it, sauté it, eat it plain, or pair it with cabbage or sauerkraut.
Italian sausage is perhaps the most versatile sausage on this list. In Italy, the range of sausages and meats are vast, however, Italian sausage as Americans know it usually refers to a seasoned pork-based product that is either hot, mild, or sweet. Italian sausage is typically seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, and fennel or anise. Hot Italian sausage will add in hot pepper while sweet Italian sausage may have sweet basil in it.
Italian sausage is typically sold unsmoked, so you will need to cook it. Luckily, there are many ways to prepare it. If you buy Italian sausage links, you can grill or sauté them and then slice them up and eat plain or serve on a bun with peppers and onions. Italian sausage is also commonly available ground, which can easily be cooked on a skillet and used in a pasta dish or as a pizza topping.
Germany is home to many sausages, but Americans are probably most familiar with bratwurst (often called a brat), which is made with course ground pork and veal in a natural casing. Bratwurst is usually seasoned with ginger, nutmeg, coriander, or caraway - giving it mild flavor. Bratwursts are just as essential to American culture as they are to German culture, especially in Wisconsin, which is where many German immigrants settled in the United States. Wisconsin is home to the "beer brat," a bratwurst simmered in beer before it is grilled, as well as the world's largest bratwurst festival.
Grilling bratwurst is probably the most common method of preparation, but you can also sauté. When cooking bratwurst, it is essential that you keep a close eye on the heat so the brats don't get too hot that the casings split open. Brats are best served on a roll with your favorite toppings and condiments – my favorites are sauerkraut and brown mustard!
Chorizo is a spicy sausage that originated in Spain and Portugal, but is also widely popular in Mexico. In the United States, chorizo is typically made like it is in Mexico, which is with uncured pork or beef, garlic, chilies, paprika, oregano, and cumin.
Chorizo is often sold without a casing, which makes it easy to cook on a skillet like you would ground beef. It can be used in all kinds of dishes, like breakfast burritos, tacos, and chili.