Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fairgrounds Italian Sausage, Peppers, & Onions

Close your eyes and imagine being at a fair, carnival, or festival. Can you hear the sizzle of a flat top grill and smell the Italian sausage, peppers, and onions?

Yesterday, Alexis and I got up at dawn and headed down to the inaugural Pork Knox, a KCBS sanctioned BBQ contest. A full post about the event is forthcoming.

We got there early, before the crowds showed up and food vendors opened their booths. The contestants are very friendly and willing to talk shop around this time. But once turn in times approach, I know to leave them the hell alone. We were hoping the weather that assaulted the entire southeast might hold off until after the event was done.

I was taking pictures when the vendors fired up but I knew that later I wanted two things, a funnel cake and an Italian sausage sandwich with peppers and onions. [I know, why eat that at a BBQ contest? I'll explain tomorrow but in short, a BBQ contest is a competition, not a BBQ festival. There's a difference.]

But then the skies turned ominous...and we got drenched, so I never got my Italian Sausage sandwich.

I decided to make my own today. Sure I could try to upgrade and make it "gourmet" but I wanted the real experience. There is just something about a fair sausage dog.

So my ground rules were keep it simple like a fair vendor would do. The only difference was that I was using live fire instead of a gas flat top like the carnival vendors use.

Fairgrounds Italian Sausage, Peppers, & Onions

Source: Nibble Me This

1 1/4 lbs Italian sausage links
16 oz beer (warm!)
1/2 large yellow onion, cut into 1/4" wedges
3 ea mini sweet peppers, seeded and cut lengthwise (Sub a green bell pepper if needed)
2 hoagie rolls, sliced lengthwise
2 Tbsp mustard
oil (see text)

Preheat a cast iron pan on a 350f grill. Place the sausages in the pan and add 12 oz of the beer. TIP: Be sure it is warm! Pouring a cold beer into a hot cast iron pan can cause a catastrophic failure of the pan. (That means your pan could literally break in two pieces, drench your fire, and ruin more than just one meal.)

Cover and cook for 16 minutes, turning the sausages 1/4 turn every 4 minutes. If needed, add the final 1/2 cup of beer to keep the liquid level up. TIP: Don't trust those silicone oven mitts. After opening the lid 3 times, I realized each time they were partially melting onto the lid.

Remove links to cutting board and split lengthwise. Drain liquid (if any) from the pan.

Oil: This is an area where I cheated. Carnies use plain oil. I used a high heat oil (safflower) and mixed about 1/4 cup with 1/4 tsp each of salt, pepper, oregano, and basil for a seasoned oil.

Put the pan back onto the fire and add about 1 tbsp of the oil. Place split sausages and veggies back onto the hot pan. Squirt about another 1 - 2 Tbsp of oil on the veggies.

Toss the veggies with tongs for the next 3 minutes. Flip the sausages (they should be browned at this point). Continue tossing the veggies for another 3 minutes and remove the pan from heat.

Slice the two hoagie rolls lengthwise and slather some mustard on each side. TIP: I used a mixture of 1 Tbsp plain yellow mustard with 1 Tbsp of coarse ground mustard.

Fill each roll with half of the sausages and half of the onion mixture.

Ahhhhh.....craving satisfied.

Versus: Fair/Carnie Food

(leave your preference in the comments section)
*Italian Sausage sandwich
*Cotton Candy
*Candied Apples
*Kettle Corn
*Corn Dogs

Obviously, I'd have to go with Italian Sausage sandwiches. What's your call?


  1. You know I called a friend of mine up in Texas one day- I woke up with cravings just like this, and it almost cost me my relationship with hubby, because as I told my friend in a very serious voice "Its over with hubby, I am leaving him for a one arm carny", after a few moments of dead silence, she said come over I will make you an Italian sausage dog, and you make the funnel cake, and we laughed- true story :)

  2. Looks fantastic! Makes me want one!!

  3. This is so on my list to try. It is the one thing my wife can not resist. I can see the smile on her face.

  4. Cravings are serious business! I'm powerless to resist the huge smoked turkey leg. However, now that you've turned me onto the glorious-ness of an italian sausage and pepper dog (which I've never had) I will be double-fisting my fair food. Great post - and glad you didn't blow away.

  5. I love reading your posts! Reading this one, made me long for summer and all the wonderful state and county fairs. I could almost smell the onions, peppers and sausage cooking!

  6. I was wondering you all fared with the weather yesterday. It wasn't too bad for us, just the standard tornado sightings.
    I'm pretty sure that your version of Italian sausage was much better than the one you would've had at the fair. I love the tip about using the beer to cook them.
    As for fair food, I think I'd have to go with the corn dog BUT I really like those cheese dogs. You know, the ones with tons of oozing cheese inside of that yummy cornbread?

  7. Nice Chris, nothing like vendor food when that is what you want. I happen to like a simple sausage and pepper sandwich.

  8. That Italian sausage sandwich looks unbelievable!! Yes, I am starving and that didn't help. I have never cooked Italian sausage in beer before, but you can be sure that I will do it next time. Thank you, this recipe is bookmarked.

  9. You did great! But my fave fair food is a tie between kettle corn and funnel cake...I like my sweet stuff :)

  10. I can tell we grew up in different parts of the country and at different times. Never had an Italian Sausage Sandwich at any fair or carnival I ever attended, but did have my share of Coney Islands, Corn Dogs and Cotton Candy. Not sure what candied apples are, I only know Caramel Apples. Lots of Caramel Corn, but never Kettle Corn. Great post and I vote for Corn Dogs.

  11. You cannot leave after a little rain. Have you ever made your own Italian sausage?

  12. Hmmm, elephant ears are always a favorite with me! Then there's fried twinkies and snickers bars, yes I do gravitate towards the sweets. Although nothing beats a good pulled pork sandwich and ribs!

  13. I haven't been to a fair in a while, but I always enjoyed elephant ears (I'm pretty sure that's the same as funnel cakes) and lemon shake-ups.

  14. Yum! I like doing them at home anyways! Scary weather this weekend - hit just north of me in central Mississippi hard, very sad.

    Our festivals & fairs have lots of seafood, so in fairness I'll leave those favorites out. Soooo... funnel cakes. Hands down. LOVE those!

  15. I'm an Italian sausage addict all the way. Especially on a really good hoagie roll...brings back so many memories.

    There need to be more fairs and bbq contests in ny. I feel deprived.

  16. One of my favorite sandwiches and yours looks perfect. I think the Tuscan Tuna Salad recipe came from one of the paper magazines - Parade or USA Today.

  17. Fairs in this area generally smell like funnel cake grease. :(

  18. I love Italian sausage done up like that, good stuff!

  19. Looks awesome! It would be the Italian sausage for me too although I prefer mine topped with onions and mushrooms, yum!

  20. Of course the sausage is stellar. Because by definition (wherever you get or make it) it's a must love food in my book. But I was so impressed by the architecture in the stormy sky pic! There is nothing with brick quite that shade here in So. Cal. Makes we want to go on a road trip in early June. Send me your frequent flier miles all who are reading this... GREG

  21. I am a huge fan of Italian Sausage and Peppers. It was a huge seller when I used to do catering. However, you can never go wrong with a corn dog.

  22. Great looking sausage on a bun. Now I've got a craving. Sorry about the weather at the festival!What other carnie food they got there?

  23. YUM! I am glad to hear about the silicone oven mit - I almost bought a pair the other day.

    I think my choice would be a tie between the Italian sausage and a corn dog... mmmmm.

  24. OK, that cold beer in a hot pan is a great thing for you to share. Had no idea that would happen! Glad you got to get your share of a hearty Italian sausage meal.

  25. oh man...what have I been missing?!

  26. Corn dogs. There is just something about having them at a fair that makes them different than from say a dog on a stick place. And funnel cakes. And deep fried twinkies. And real cotton candy freshly made (not the ones they sell at arenas already packaged). Wait, sorry, kinda went off on a tangent there.

  27. Sausage, peppers, and onion sandwich and lemonade are my absolute favorite fair food.


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