While it’s hard to resist the delicious aroma of food sizzling on the grill, few people associate the backyard barbecue with gourmet greatness. As the flames heat up this summer, you can single-handedly alter that perception by introducing a new element of flavor–Italian sausage.

A close cousin to the bratwurst, versatile Italian sausage offers a flavorful alternative with a unique blend of herbs and spices. Available in a variety of seasonings and flavors–such as Johnsonville’s Mild, Sweet or Hot Italian Sausage Links–savory Italian sausage can serve as the foundation of wide array of dishes.

Served on a bun, as a main course or as an ingredient in a prepared entrée, Italian sausage can take you from basic grill to brilliant gourmet with no extra fuss.

A bath is an excellent–and simple–method for layering in unexpected flavors with Italian sausage that will make your guests wonder what other culinary secrets you have hidden away. For example, Johnsonville’s White Wine Sausage Bath combines the sophisticated overtones of wine with fresh herbs and veggies for an unexpectedly gourmet grill entrée.

Before you get started, consider these tips to make the most of your sausage grilling experience:

  • * Avoid utensils such as forks, which can puncture the sausage and allow flavorful juices to escape.
  • * Keep all your food safe and flavorful by using one set of tongs to place raw meat on the grill and different tongs to turn meat that is already cooking, as well as any side dishes, such as vegetables, that you may be grilling at the same time.
  • * Grill sausages at a low to medium-low heat, cooking slowly to keep the meat moist and flavorful.
  • * Maintain the same temperature on the outside and inside of the sausage. Meat should be cooked through with no pink showing, and a thermometer should read 160 degrees F when your sausage is done.
  • For additional recipes featuring Italian sausage, as well as cooking demonstrations and video tips, visit www.johnsonville.com.

White Wine Sausage Bath
10 servings, prep: 15 minutes, grill: 30 minutes

8 ounces–fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 bell pepper–sliced
2 shallots–or small onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves–thinly sliced
1 bottle–(750 ml) sauvignon blanc or other fruity white wine
1 bunch–fresh thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
2 packages–(19.76 ounces each) Johnsonville Mild Italian Sausage Links
Large (12-inch x 9-inch) heavy-duty disposable foil pan

Preheat grill to medium-low. Place a large heavy-duty disposable foil pan on grill. Add mushrooms, peppers, shallots and garlic; cook and stir until tender. Add wine, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a gentle simmer. Add sausage and cover pan with foil. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into sausage reads 160 degrees F.

Remove sausage from pan. Grill links until browned; then return to pan. Discard thyme and bay leaves. Cover pan and keep warm until serving.