The Tennessee Valley Fair has been running in Knoxville. As a kid, I loved the local fair with its bright lights, blaring sounds, and whirring "one loose bolt away from a catastrophe" rides. Then there was the food - eating brilliant red candy apples, clouds of cotton candy, and fried funnel cakes until you might explode.
One of my favorite memories of the fair is the smell of peppers, onions, and sausage wafting across the midway. Here's how I make the best fair sausage hoagie at home on my Big Green Egg. These are quick and they are also fantastic for gameday food.
So, this isn't as much a recipe, I mean, it's just sausage, peppers and onions, right? But there are a few key steps in my process that make it better.
- Toasting the bun
- Using a griddle or cast-iron skillet
- Seasoning the peppers and onions
- Splitting the sausage
- Using ultra-thin provolone on the veggies and meat
|I like to run the grill about 400°f for sausage hoagies.
|I toast the hoagie rolls cut side down without butter or anything. I skip brushing them with butter or anything because there is enough rendered fat clinging to the sausage and veggies.
|Preheat a griddle or cast-iron skillet for 5-10 minutes. I have an adjustable rig in this picture, but that's only because I didn't feel like moving it. This is the same as just having a standard grate on top of the fire ring. The skillet is a basic Lodge SK10.
|After the veggies have cooked for 5 minutes, I shift them to the side to create space for the sausages. I add the sausages in split-side down and let them cook until they are golden brown on the bottom, right at 6 to 7 minutes.
|Once the sausages are golden brown on the bottom, flip them over and cook them until they reach an internal temperature of 165°f. That should only take 2-3 minutes.
|Now top the sausages and the veggies with Sargento Ultra-Thin Sliced Provolone. These thin slices melt quickly and perfectly.
|Close the grill lid and cook for another minute until the cheese is bubbly. Look at how the cheese melts onto the veggies, almost like a sauce.
|Here's another trick. I slice the cheesy Italian sausages on the bias before putting them on the toasted buns, so it exactly covers the bun for sausage in every bite.
|See how the cheese is everywhere but not overly heavy? That is why I love using layers of the ultra-thin slices instead of one thick slice.
- The toasted buns add texture and stand up to the rendered sausage fat.
- Using a skillet or griddle replicates the texture of a flat top griddle used at a fair.
- Seasoning the peppers and onions amplifies their flavors.
- Splitting the sausages gives them the tasty Maillard effect and cooks them quickly so they are still juicy.
- Using the ultra-thin cheese evenly distributes it through the whole sandwich.