Ever since the birth of my children I find that time that I can use for recreational outdoor activities has become to put it gently, limited. And even though the resolution is for them to just get a little older, waiting is the hardest part. In the meantime I’m always searching for those ways to get me a little taste of the things I used to do in those pre-daddy days. Well as luck would have it, a couple weeks ago I was contacted about a new product from Johnsonville, their Sizzling Sausage Grill. Anytime someone is willing to send me a sample, especially our friends at Johnsonville, to get my thoughts I am happy to oblige.
I think the first thing worth mentioning is that the fact that this is an electrical appliance is a significant departure from Johnsonville’s food only approach before. In all honesty I was admittedly a little skeptical about the item since it appears to be only useful for sausage cooking. The other thing is that most people have some experience with the electric grill concept, probably with something sold under a famous boxer’s name. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with the idea, but I can’t really tell you the last time I saw one in use.
So for starters the Sizzling Sausage Grill is a counter-top electric grill which has metal inserts with grooves in the shape of the typical Johnsonville sausage link i.e. a tube with that slight curvature. In the top plate there is a hole through which a temperature probe is allowed to puncture a sausage and sense when to stop the cooking process. Each of the cooking plates is removable and are dishwasher safe. On the exterior of the product there is a removable drip tray and the outer surface is a mixture of black plastic and a brushed metal. It has a solid feel and slight heft which seems appropriate for its appearance.
Using the grill is pretty simple, you place your desired sausage onto the bottom plate, matching the shape with the groove. You can do 1-5 sausages at a time, the only caveat is that one sausage must be placed into the middle groove so that the temperature probe can detect the internal temp. Otherwise you’re free to place any extra sausages in whichever spot you’d like. From there you close the lid until it latches and press the button. The claim is that the grill will cook the sausages in 10-15 minutes. Here is a video describing the process along with graphics showing it:
My test was pretty straightforward, cook a pack of brats and see what happened. Less than 12 minutes later I had 5 nearly perfected cooked brats hot and ready for dinner. I say nearly perfectly because a couple didn’t have complete browning, which is a minor criticism. The vast majority of the surface was a lovely even shade of brown and other than the sausage that received the probe none appeared to be punctured/cracked. And that cook time? I don’t think I’ve ever turned out brats that fast except when dealing with the pre-cooked varieties. Truthfully I was very pleased with how they turned out.
Indoor sausage cooking usually involves a lot of cleanup, that was not a problem with this. The plates are easily removed, and even though they are dishwasher safe, a quick wash with a soapy sponge took care of them.
Does that mean that I would recommend this to everyone? Not really. It’s not very often that I test a product that delivers on it’s claims that I still have reservations. When we talk about a product in terms of tailgating there are plenty of variables that need to be factored in.
Firstly this is an electrical appliance, if you don’t have electricity available to you at your tailgate then you’re out of luck. Also consider that you can do 5 sausages at a time, if you need to crank out more than 5 every 10-15 minutes you need additional resources. Finally it really only cooks the fresh uncooked sausages, that can mean a wide variety of flavors, but it definitely doesn’t mean a burger or chicken wings.
One place where I can see a product like this being useful for a tailgater is after the event when you want something to eat while you wait for traffic to clear up or to celebrate your team’s win. Firing up a more traditional grill is can take time, and cool down usually isn’t instantaneous. This can mitigate a lot of that.
Also for a lot of people they can’t make it to every game and do a fair amount of “homegating.” In my situation with the kids the ability to go to the kitchen turn on the grill and then walk away for a bit and come back to cooked food is really appealing.
I do like this product, and where I think it will be of great use will be in prepping sausage when it isn’t necessarily the main course say for pizza or more typical sandwiches.
The price seems high, but if you’re considering this product you likely don’t take your sausage consumption lightly. Currently the product site has the Sizzling Sausage Grill listed at $99.98 + $14.95 S&H which can be broken down into 2 payments. There is a 2 year limited warranty on the product, and right now they include coupons for 4 packs of sausage with every purchase potentially a $28 value.
My final take? Tailgating approved with reservations for the reasons I listed above, but worth it if you’re serious about Johnsonville sausage. For more info see https://www.sizzlingsausagegrill.com/