Yep you heard it right.
Probably the world’s most affordable piece of meat, universally loved and consumed on grills, steamers and BBQ’s. We all fell in love with them since we were kids. No bones, no fat, no connective tissue, no head, no feet, easy to eat, no preseasoning required and very easy to cook. Or is it?
Wieners are emulsified sausages. They come in several different textures, sizes, flavors and quality. As you could guess; they used to be the by product of all the meat trim that was not worthy of classified as ground meat. Kind of scary really. So to make sure not to get sick, we all cooked the s.it out of it. Nowadays the standards in the meat plants has changed and they actually valued this product which has a huge market - probably bigger than any other piece or cut of meat- and started to make decent sausages. When I shop for wieners I always go to the small delicatessens, especially the eastern European heritage ones, if I have the time and the chance. As the quality goes up you will come across the meat chunks rather than super smooth texture. I do not prefer smoked versions just due to the injection of liquid smoke into the meat, usually the big brands… If it is smoked in the house that’s whole another story.
The trim of the meat and fat is seasoned, pureed with cold water or egg whites and mixed until a gummy texture is achieved and goes into the casings. Pre-cooked very gently and chilled. Very easy to make at home, but then again cheap enough to just buy of good quality.
What is the best way of cooking this beautiful piece of meat? Everybody swears by their method. First things first; microwaving is a BIG NO!, messes up the whole chemistry of any sausage. My favorite comes from my childhood. I still remember the first bite of my hot dog when I was 4. Just like any other kid on the planet, I was amazed. Mom simply boiled them in tomato sauce and served it with bread and pickles. For long years it was my favorite thing to eat. So I believe in steamed or boiled sausage more than grilled. Just like I said any emulsified substance will split with the excess amount of heat which usually is the case in your backyard BBQs. People will slap them on the grill and cook until it explodes, split and drained out of juice. Do not get me wrong, sausage drippings sizzling on a hot grill is a beautiful thing, but then again the juice of the sausage belongs in the sausage not on your grill. Now the skinny ones are kind of fine, but when you go up in the size and cook the sausage for long time on high heat, the fat will liquify, the meat portion will seize up and release the fat which will end up in a greasy and a heavy bite. Now if you ask me, a good wiener has to have a beautiful snap to the bite, has to be juicy rather than greasy. To achieve this I always bring the internal temperature of the sausage to 150F ish, simply poaching them in hot water or tomato sauce very gently for 8-9 minutes (a large wiener that would be). Then pull them out of the cooking liquid and rest for 3-4 minutes at room temp for sausage to relax and temper. Get a grill pan super hot or your grill heated up to highest setting. Quickly char the outside very fast not exceeding 3-4 minutes for a smoky grill flavor. If I am using tomato sauce, return in the pot for sauce to pick up little bit a BBQ flavor. You will be amazed by the texture difference and juice content. Your favorite pickle, hot mustard and drizzle of sauce or ketchup. You are in for a real treat.