The Hamburger. Hot Dog. Sandwich. The list could go on forever. Our diets are based around this most basic concept of the farmer’s lunch: baked grains with cooked meat, topped with garden vegetables. Simple food made with the best local ingredients. In one way, shape, or form almost almost all our meals can relate to this idea. Our fast food businesses have bastardized it, food carts have simplified it. Even Michelin star restaurants elaborate on it. It almost always tastes delicious and is very rarely expensive to make.
When summer rolls around usually the Hamburger steals a lot of the limelight in this category which is great providing that your patties are homemade. What has been somewhat forgotten is a more basic staple that is usually seen more commonly grilling on lunch carts in big cities, where the vendors use products that aren’t typically even in local grocery stores: the classic sausage on a bun. If you’re fortunate, your local deli or meat shop makes fresh, well seasoned sausages that you probably always walked past. Quite often they are made fresh every day and often have surprisingly low fat content. The next ingredient is obviously bread, and a fresh sourdough baguette works perfectly. Cut off as much as you need to hold the sausage. This is a good time to buy one of those unique whole grain mustard jars that your grandpa probably always had around his house, the more pungent the better. A bit on the baguette goes a long way, giving the tang that cuts through the rich meat flavours. Fry some onions and peppers in a touch of butter and garlic, and simmer them until the onion is soft. Smother the bun with these. While they simmer, grill up your sausage. Sausage is a forgiving meat to grill because the skin locks in the juice, keeping things moist and flavourful. That locked in juice seems to suck out the flavours from the spices and herbs as well as they cook. To finish, cut 3 slices at an angle in the sausage to let out some of the juice. This will prevent it exploding in the bun when you bite into it.
There are 2 reasons why this meal has become synonymous to grilling for me: it can be tweaked easily to accommodate any bread, meat or vegetable and still maintain the basic idea, and you can drink absolutely anything with it. Intuitively, rustic fare of course calls for rustic beverages, like pilsner or cotes-du-rhone, but you can match your ingredients to much more sophisticated drinks. Lamb/rosemary sausage with young Bordeaux or peated scotch. Champagne or IPA is great with white meat sausages. Pulling out a good bottle and enjoying the most basic of food outdoors, eating with your hands, is very much in the spirit of summer. There is lots of room for creativity, so eat up.