Chicken / Pasta / Salad

Penne w/ sausage, corn & zucchini

We’re still ordering subscription meals. Today’s return to the kitchen comes from Hello Fresh and is a great meal for the summer. Bonus points for encouraging you to get your ass outside to fire up the grill – or in my case, the smoker.

Smoking can be a long, arduous process and perhaps even a little intimidating to anyone who’s never done it before or isn’t quite comfortable. Fortunately, in this case (this sausage case…get it…because of the casing…now do you see?), sausage is a smaller meat and smokes relatively quickly when compared to large cuts of meat.

The sausage was smoked at 225 degrees over some soaked applewood chips that I was desperate to get rid, as chips are garbage and chunk is the one true wood. The sausage in the recipe is chicken-based.  So, no matter how you cook it, make sure the sausage reaches an internal temperature of 160-165 degrees, or you will risk certain death or at least food poisoning.

I’ve seen other recommendations that sausage be smoked at a lower temperature, which I may try at some point, but we got by at 225 with no complaints, a nice amount of smoke and still managed to eat at a reasonable hour. Because I am also a disciple of the reverse sear method, I finished the sausage in a hot cast iron pan to brown the outside before slicing.

Pictured: Look at that! There must be… 1 or 2 pieces of sausage in this picture. I’d say that’s a job well done, after talking about nothing but sausage for several paragraphs.

Recipe by Hello Fresh
Serves 2 -4

Does It Smoke?: In more ways than one! Of course you should smoke this sausage. You should always be smoking sausage because it’s so easy, so delicious and takes almost no time. If you can’t, don’t or won’t smoke, at least get the sausage on a grill.

You should also be smoking or at least grilling the corn. If you’ve never burned or charred a fresh ear of corn on the cob, you’re absolutely missing out on a completely different flavor that elevates this from a fancy pasta salad to a truly grilled dish.

There’s also potential to smoke the mozzarella, but even I’m not that adventurous (yet). So if you try this at home on your own, spring for some smoked mozzarella. They sell it at every major supermarket by my house right in the deli, if that helps you at all. Or try your own local grocers if you don’t want to make a road trip to suburban Philadelphia.

As far as the wood is concerned, I’d stick with something more mild or fruit-based. I’ve used apple, cherry and peach multiple times for chicken, vegetables and fish. Pecan is obviously less fruity (because a pecan is not a fruit), but still mild enough. Anything more intense than those could overpower the other components of the meal, which is a a great way to get your spouse to hate that you smoke every single meal you eat.

Hello “Fresh”: The recipe came with a can of corn. A company that uses the word “Fresh” as one of the two words in its brand sent us can of corn. No, I’m not going to cancel the service or attempt to start a viral campaign to take the blog global by going negative, but this is just silly considering that a rival competitor, Blue Apron, frequently sends fresh ears of corn with their boxes.

All in all, this is a dish that’s going to find it’s way into our rotation. It has everything necessary to do so – it’s fresh, on the healthier side, can be a side just as easily as it can be a main course. But most importantly, it smokes.

Rating: Two thumbs up? Or 5 forks out of 5?
I don’t know. I’m going to need to come up with a rating system at some point.

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