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Italian sausage is pink inside .....

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I order most of my italian sausage (cheese and parsley) from the butcher. What I have noticed for years is that when I cook the sausage on the grill that the inside is pink on many an occasion. There is no doubt that the sausage is cooked, but the inside remains pink. Even when I reheat the sausage in the microwave the next day the inside remains pink. I would say this happens about 50% of the time when I cook sausage.

I tried doing research online about this problem, but couldn't get any concrete answers. Anyone know why this happens ? Is it because the sausage was frozen maybe ? Although I ordered a fresh batch from the butcher and the same thing happened. I know the sausage is cooked thru, but when others see the pinkness inside they don't want to eat it. Can't blame them. Any help ?

Edit ..... the sausage is made with pork shoulder or butt.

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post #2 of 20
What sort of dry spices is the butcher using when mixing the sausage? I ask because I've had sage sausage, which cooks almost grey normally, with paprika added turn out a sort of pinkish color when cooked.
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post #3 of 20
Hello and Welcome Carlo.

Interesting problem... Do the sausages contain any bacon? I was always taught to brown meat before adding bacon to a meat mix, otherwise it will stay pink if you don't, or to cook off the bacon beforehand, then adding later. This may be an "old wive's tale", and I don't know the reason for it, but it did work in practice.

Or if it's due to some food colouring or chemical additive which keeps the meat pink?

Someone with more knowledge of this will chime in soon I'm sure :)

You dinner partners should be glad someone is cooking for them!

As an experiment, you could try part cooking the sausages by par-boiling them for 5 minutes, then finish them on the grill, see what happens. I like to do this when barbecueing sausages (done on a gas grill), so they stay moist by the time they are brown. BBQ'd from raw can end up with really dry inside by the time they are brown enough. Just a thought.... :)
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post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
No other spices or bacon, basically it's ground up pork shoulder, salt, pepper, fennel, mild provolone cheese and parsley ..... that's it. My father-in-law told me years ago it had to do with freezing the sausage. But I have frozen sausage in the past and it hasn't happened. I also froze sausage in the past and it has happened. Who knows .... maybe the butcher freezes the sausage ? They say it's freshly made, but you never know.

I also read that it could be chemicals (nitrates ?), but why would they put a chemical in sausage that makes the inside stay pink when tricanosis is a fear by many ? I will try par boiling the sausage in the future before putting them on the gas grill ..... it can't hurt, and if you say it keeps the inside more moist then it's a good step to do anyhow.

What's funny is sometimes I even buy the skinny sausage, and over cook it, and it still can be pink inside. It's random though .... sometimes the sausage comes out perfect and other times it stays pink regardless of how much time or temperature I cook it at. :crazy:
post #5 of 20
It could even be the feed given the hogs! I learned that many years ago at college amid the cornfields and pig farms in Illinois.
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post #6 of 20
And the pink color could be due to the presence of either Sodium nitrite or Sodium erythorbate - for both chemicals affect the color of sausages and cured meats.

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post #7 of 20
There is no more trichinosis in the United States, nor has there been for well over a generation. Trichinosis is ineed a fear, but that's all it is. It isn't real.

If the sorts of "cures" were used that kept meat pink, the well cooked meat on the outside would stay pink as well -- just like a hot dog. So, the problem isn't nitrates or nitrites.

You mentioned "feezing" earlier in your post, and that isn't the problem either -- at least not unless you're putting the sausages on the grill partially frozen.

The problem is that the core of the sausage hasn't been heated to the temperature where it turns grey -- which is about 160F. Pork is plenty safe to eat at a 145F internal, so get yourself a decent instant read thermometer (preferably a digital with a slender probe) and check the core temp when you take the sausage off the grill. Then you and your relatives will know for sure, and can enjoy your food.

Boiling sausages before grilling doesn't keep them moist. What it does do is either split the casings, dry the meat out, or both. You might try grilling them to get some marks and flavor -- then when they're just about done put them either in a simmering beer bath (with plenty of rough cut onions), or a pan of sauteed peppers and onions.

With Italian sausage the peppers and onions are the way to go. Saute in olive oil until just soft, add the cooked (or partially cooked) sausage, cover, lower the heat to very low and let the flavors marry while the sausage ripens -- as short as fifteen minutes and as long as forever.

"Skinny sausage," aka breakfast links are cured with nitrates and/or nitrites -- and that accounts for the pink.

Hope this helps,
BDL
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post #8 of 20
Have to mention "the smoke ring" you can get when grilling. Chemical reaction of the meat and smoke. Depends on cooking fuel, temperature cooked at etc.
post #9 of 20
BDL stated that <<...Boiling sausages before grilling doesn't keep them moist. What it does do is either split the casings, dry the meat out, or both. You might try grilling them to get some marks and flavor -- then when they're just about done put them either in a simmering beer bath (with plenty of rough cut onions), or a pan of sauteed peppers and onions...>>

Just try slow cooking the sausages with olive oil in a covered frypan. You'll be delighted with the results.

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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

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post #10 of 20
I had a whole long reply going, but I'll trim it down to this: sausages are more tempermental that we give them credit for. The pink I experienced was eliminated by a slower, more thorough cooking. So try lower the heat, and cook them a while longer. Many good sausages will handle the longer cooking times just fine without drying out.

Also, the more you practice with them, definitely check the core temperature of a few of them as BDL posted. Try inserting thermometer through the tip of the link to prevent too many juices from seeping out.

If you are in a hurry and are cooking them on your stove, try browning them a bit, then add some water to the pan and cover with a good fitting lid. The steam will cook through to the core.

With all that said, I do see a pinkish-hue on certain brands of Italian sausages even with the slower cooking method. However, this kind of pink is seen throughout the link (usually hot italian) and it is obvious it is from the seasoning....its not just seen in the core.

Good luck and report back to us soon!
post #11 of 20
Oh I am going to regret this....ok here I go. This is the first and probably only time I'm going to beg to differ with BDL, all respects and apologies in advance etc etc.

I should have said simmer. But anywho, I've found it helps get the sausage cooked thoroughly by pre-cooking them a bit, then giving them the high heat on the grill to get the grid marks and crispy skin. I like the results. The problem was that the sausages looked uncooked in the centre.

I don't find it dries them out or splits the skin, as far as this home cook has done them.

It's just my 2 cents worth.....as with any advice, it can be taken or left. Trying to help is all.

DC
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post #12 of 20
Interesting post to read.
I would assume that any "pink" that prevailed in any minced meat weiner would be caused by the additives OR being undercooked.
I have some 30 pounds of bratwurst coming in tomorrow uncooked. I'm going to hotel pan and H2O them into an oven until I see 160 degrees. Immediate ice bath.
For service, grilled until HOT.
I don't expect to encounter any "pink" food.

But, ya, don't BOIL the sausages. SIMMER them. Standard protocol, DC Sunshine, from what I've read, THAT'S what makes them split = no good.
To be honest, I like a broken casing, but I want it to be broken on the grill.
...Not enough time for the fats to fall through the grill, just enough that the fats spill onto the bun. It moistens the bun and...
little bit of mustard on a fresh roll...
I got to stop talking about it...
/drool
post #13 of 20
The pink pork is absolutely nothing to worry about, it reflects nothing of the cooking time or internal temp. I have slow cooked pork butts for several hours and each and everytime there are certain parts of it that remain pink, whether it's a smoke ring from smoking or even just slowcooking in a pot or the oven. I am no scientist but I am sure that there is a chemical reaction that happens when that part of the animal is cooked. I am always explaining it to people who are weary of that part that they are not to worry, the meat is cooked past the point of doneness. I don't believe it has anything to do with methods of cooking, or ingredients.

Pork butt and pork shoulder by the way are the exact same cut of meat, as are picnic shoulder and boston butt... they're all the same.

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post #14 of 20
Most commercial sausage prep places use a spice blend that comes from a lab . in Jersey.
It used to be 1 prescaled bag for every 25 Lbs meat mix and x amount of H2O. The mix contains hi amounts of oleo resin of paprika as well as nitrates and other chemicals.This combined with cooking temp is why it appears a light pink(not red). Also if the inner meat is subject to high amount of oxygen it will get more pink. It will not get you ill to eat like this. Solid pork roast and cuts can be cooked till 140-145 and thats ok. For ground pork for safety sake cook higher(165) the reason being, you dont know what else is in there. (read Ingredients) Example when I make I mix with boned turkey leg meat.Why because we use turkey breast only and this is great outlet for legs and side meat.
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post #15 of 20
Having worked on an Iowa farm owned by my cousins and uncle, and having other relatives who spent their whole adult life raising hogs, I can tell you that the only reason trichonosis is no longer the threat it used to be is that hogs are allowed to root on cement, not in mud holes like the old days. It is the fecal material and the mud where the trichonosis used to eminate.

Allow the hog to root only on cement, and you pretty much eliminate the source of trichonosis in hogs.

I have a friend that actually makes pork jerky from raw pork.

Despite what I think I know about it, I still refuse to eat raw pork! :)

doc
post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thank you everyone for your responses. My main concern with a pinkish interior to the sausage is that within a year or so I plan on opening an eatery, and I definitely want grilled sausage and pepper as a menu item. My fear is giving a customer a sausage with a pink inside.

From this discussion, trichinosis it seems is no longer an actual worry these days, but on a retail level when people come in with their children or whomever, my bet is that if they were served sausage and the interior was pink that they may never come back regardless of the rarity of trichinosis. It just doesn't look good.

The sausage I cook to date is always cooked well done. I don't measure temperature, but their is no doubt in my mind that the center is cooked. Like I said in my above post ..... when I have left over sausage, I put it in the microwave the next day and the middle still stays pink. This is not " hot sausage" I'm talking about either. "Hot sausage" has a reddish center from the spices .... I understand this. The sausage I cook should be gray in the center 100% of the time IMO.

I will try simmering the sausage first and then take it to the grill for final cooking. I want the taste to be one of "grilled", so I will experiment with this technique and see if I can be 100%. Anything less than 100% is not acceptable, so if this doesn't work I'll have to cancel my favorite dish off my menu ..:(

Thank you again everybody for your input. I guess I'll have a lot of questions for you folks in the future.
post #17 of 20
When I was in the Navy (a long time ago) at the Norfolk Navy Base, there were dumpsters on every pier marked 'EDIBLE GARBAGE" for the scraps from the ships' galleys. These scraps were sold to the hog farmers in the nearby Smithfield area, to wind up as Smithfield hams - after the hogs were finished on leftover peanuts in the neighboring fields.

I was under the impression that this consumption of food scraps might have something to do with the existence of trichanosis. I'm pretty sure this practice no longer exists.

Be glad to hear more informed opinion.

Mike
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post #18 of 20
Me too.
I was told that it was a "feed" problem, not a "pen" problem. I guess they both make sense, I was just under the impression it was a "Creutzfeldt-Jakob" type deal where infected hogs were being fed infected hogs. Rolling around in infected poo seems reasonable though...
Anyone care to elaborate?

And, carlo1, it may be beneficial for you to try cooking one or two sausages until they reach just 160 degrees F, as opposed to guessing or overcooking. Try it. See if you notice a difference in flavor/texture.
post #19 of 20
Psshhht....live a little....be fearless....it's only death. :D

This is a completely raw sausage dish I had in Italy a few weeks ago....I'm still alive!
post #20 of 20
That's awesome RPM.

I have some friends from southern Japan that eat chicken sashimi and they seem to be ok.

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