I have a love-hate relationship with my kitchen in the summer. On one hand, I spend the whole winter pining after all of the fresh things that are delicious straight from the ground and don’t have to have their goodness coaxed out of them in soup pots and braising pans. On the other hand, once summer arrives and green things abound, it is all I can do to cut things up and throw them in a bowl. If lettuce has to be washed, crackers will work as dinner. Meal planning—as in make a list of what to cook for the week, shop for it, and then cook it—is an endeavor for colder months. Who wants to stand over a hot stove when you can play outside?
Enter grilling. Grilling is the have-your-cake-and-eat-it-to solution to summer cooking. Hang out outside, drink a beer—don’t add any unnecessary heat to your already steamy kitchen. For us, meals on the grill are rarely planned ahead, which means that nine times out of ten, we’re making tacos. Pretty much anything you can cook on your grill is going to taste good in a taco, topped with something bright and crunchy and any condiments you have on hand. If you’re like us, you almost always have corn tortillas in your fridge, which you can wrap around whatever else you can find that might taste good smoky and blistered.
This week we got back to our house after an extended dogsitting stint, and let’s just say it was slim pickings in the grocery department. I defrosted three sweet Italian sausages I discovered in the freezer, and sliced up two bell peppers (brought home with us) and a red onion (found in somewhat questionable condition in the crisper). We threw it all on the grill, added corn tortillas, a simple salad, and called it dinner.
Grilled Sausage Tacos with Peppers and Onions
Serves 2, modestly, or 3, hungrily
3 sausages of your choice (we went with sweet Italian from a butcher nearby that makes great ones, but I think spicy Italian or chipotle chicken would also work well here)
2 bell peppers
1 medium red onion
Olive oil, salt and pepper
6 corn tortillas
mustard, lime wedges, hot sauce, or other condiments of your choice to garnish
- Cut onion in half, then slice thin. Cut peppers into quarter inch slices. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bring charcoal grill to high heat (just after flames dissipate and coals are mostly greyed over), or heat gas grill to medium high. Place grill basket over half of grill (if you have a cooler side, put the grill basket there. Ours is basically just a square of wire netting—if you don’t have a grill basket, cut your peppers and onion in big enough chunks that they won’t fall through the grate). Place peppers and onions on grill basket—be careful not to crowd them too much or they’ll steam instead of grilling. Put the sausages over fairly high heat on the other half of the grill.
2. Toss the peppers and onions periodically, so they blister but don’t burn. When the sausages are dark and the juices start to ooze out, turn over. Once sausages are almost, but not fully cooked through, remove from grill and cut in half lengthwise. Return to grill, cut side down, long enough to finish cooking and brown the exposed side. Remove from grill. Once the peppers and onions have softened and blistered, remove them also.
3. Place tortillas, three or four at a time, depending on the size of your grill, on the grate. Heat them until they begin to brown and puff up, about a minute. Flip and repeat.
4. Place a half sausage with some peppers and onions inside a tortilla. Garnish with spicy mustard, lime, or whatever condiments you prefer. Repeat all summer.
No grill? You won’t keep your kitchen cool, but you can make these on the stove on a grill pan, or even in a regular cast iron. Heat your tortillas directly over the flame.