Published July 1, 2008.
This classic pairing sounds tailor-made for the grill. But the reality is usually onions that are both crunchy and charred and sausages that either dry out or—worse—catch fire.
Both fatty and lean sausages present problems when grilling. Fatty sausages drip grease on the coals, causing flare-ups that can char or burn. Leaner sausages may escape charring but the grill's intense heat can dry them out and produce a mealy texture.
We wanted nicely browned links with juicy interiors, along with a foolproof method to produce accompanying tender and golden onions and peppers.
We adapted a ballpark technique, first cooking the meat with the onions away from the direct heat and then finishing them directly over the flames. Our first experiments showed that we needed to give the onions a jump-start in order to ensure uniform cooking. The simplest and fastest method was to microwave them with thyme, salt, and pepper. We then layered the raw sausages over the hot onions in a disposable roasting pan (wrapped tightly in foil) and placed the pan on the grill. After 15 minutes, we removed the sausages from the pan, placing them directly on the grate to brown. Once browned, we set the sausages aside, covered the grill, and continued cooking the onions until the liquid evaporated and the onions caramelized. With this basic recipe under our belt, we utilized the same technique to develop variations with peppers, fennel, and (using bratwurst) sauerkraut and apples.list of recipes