Better Sausage Preparation, With Help From DBGB's Eli Collins

Executive Chef Eli Collins of the sausage-centric Daniel Boulud restaurant DBGB in New York City is passionate about such things as which beers to pair with sausage, what sides go best with sausage and how to stuff sausages with intriguing ingredients. These are very cool things to be into.

He's also into basketball, it turns out, so for March Madness, he devised a special menu, It's the Sausage Fest Platter, which he'll serve at the DBGB Sausage Slam on March 20 (ticket details below); he's also added the meal as a prix-fixe option throughout the month. It features tastes of the restaurant's signature sausages, such as Beaujolaise and Thai, as well salad, soup, rhubarn tart for dessert and beer pairings from Bronx Brewery. Here, Collins tells us more about all of this, and most importantly, how we can improve our own sausage-cooking technique at home.

Tell us about the idea for the March Madness Sausage Slam dinner.

A few months back a group of us [at DBGB] was debating favorite sausages, which is a hard call to make. We figured guests probably feel the same way when they look at our sausage offerings — they want to order them all. The "Sausage Slam" dinner is a chance to do that. Since the first round of March Madness overlaps with the dinner, and guests will get slammed with lots and lots of sausages, the name felt appropriate.

Cool. So tell us about the pairings with Bronx Brewery's beers.

Our Boudin Basque with Bronx Brewery's Black Pale Ale. The toasted barley flavor of the beer mellows out the spice of the sausage. The Viennoise with their Belgian Pale Ale; a sweeter beer works well with the smoky flavor of the emmenthaler cheese in the sausage. And our new Normande sausage is great with the signature Bronx Pale Ale. Again, sweet and malty should go nicely with the apples and warm spice of this sausage.

What about cooking sausages? They're usually shaped in such a way that it's tough to get them to cook on all sides. Any tips?

One trick to a perfectly cooked sausage is a "double-cook method" — this involves poaching the sausage in simmering water for about 20 minutes (depending on the type of sausage) and then searing it on the stovetop. This gentle cooking helps keep in the meat's juices and prevents the sausage from breaking. When searing, you can put a bit of butter or oil on the hot surface and let the sausage brown a few minutes on each side.

What about stuffing sausages — you guys have amazing cheese-stuffed sausages. How do you do that?

I work with our Chef Charcutier, Aurelien Dufour, to come up with sausage recipes that incorporate all types of fillings – cheese (emmentaler in the Viennoise, cheddar in the Vermont), fruits and vegetables (the new Normande sausage for spring has apples and the Lamb Crepinette has peas), spices (ginger and red curry in the Thai, mint and harissa in the Tunisienne) and so on. The fillings are mixed with ground meat and piped into all-natural casings via a sausage stuffer.

Any sausage trends we should know about?

New American butcher shops are opening all the time and are creating a dynamic range of sausages that incorporate flavors you don't traditionally think of when it comes to sausage.

Is there a right and a wrong time to use mustard with sausages?

Some of our sausages have a lot going on as they are — between fillings and accoutrements — but there's never a wrong time for mustard. We offer two different styles of mustard with all the sausages, Dijon and whole grain, which I use on the Viennoise.

What are some recommended mustard styles (and/or brands)?

Maille Smooth Dijon. It has the perfect balance of spice, flavor and acidity. A little bit goes along way.

Tickets to the Sausage Slam with beer pairings by Bronx Brewery at DBGB's Bar Room are available for $95 each, plux tax and gratuity.

You can also follow us @foodrepublic and RT for a chance to win a pair of tickets to the dinner.

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