There are four main categories of sausages: fresh, cooked and smoked, cooked, and semi-dry and dry. The sausages listed here are basically ground meat, seasoned and flavored, with added fat, stuffed into casings. Bulk sausage is flavored ground meat, usually pork, that is cooked like ground beef, or formed into patties. No matter which sausage you use, be sure to read the label for handling and cooking instructions. A sausage which is smoked or dried, for instance, isn't necessarily fully cooked and ready to eat without further cooking.
Many people are concerned about nitrates and nitrites, preservatives used in the making of smoked meat and sausages. These curing agents stop bacterial contamination and give the product a pink color and distinctive flavor. If you shop carefully, you can find products labeled nitrate and nitrite-free.
In the chart below, the ingredients listed for each sausage are generic. Specific brands of sausages may have slightly different ingredients; however, these ingredients are considered typical.
Oh, and Polish Sausage and Kielbasa are basically the same and are interchangeable; kielbasa is a polish word that means 'sausage'. One of the differences is that Kielbasa is sold in rings rather than separate links. Just use the brand you like!
SAUSAGE TYPE INGREDIENTS COOKING METHOD
Polish Sausage Fresh Pork, beef, garlic, thyme or marjoram, pork fat, pepper Steam, Fry, Grill, Bake to 155 degrees F
Kielbasa Fresh, Smoked Beef, pork, garlic, pork or beef fat, mustard Steam, Fry, Grill, Bake to 155 degrees F
Bratwurst Fresh, sometimes smoked and cooked Pork or beef, veal, dry milk, onion, garlic, coriander, caraway, nutmeg Steam, Fry, Grill, Bake to 155 degrees F
Salami Dry, Cured Highly seasoned: garlic, salt, pepper, sugar Ready to eat
Sweet or Hot Italian Fresh Sweet: garlic, sugar, anise, and fennel
Hot: paprika, chile peppers, onion, garlic, fennel, parsley Steam, Fry, Grill, Bake to 155 degrees F
Cervelat or Summer Sausage Cured, Smoked, Semi-Dry Pork, beef, garlic, mustard, mild spices Ready to eat
Andouille Smoked Pork, salt, very spicy, sugar, paprika, red pepper, garlic, sage Ready to eat
Boudin Blanc Fresh, delicate Pork, fat, eggs, cream, bread crumbs, seasonings Gently saute
Braunschweiger Precooked, smoked Smoked liver, eggs, milk Ready to eat; spreadable
Boudin Noir Precooked Pig's blood, suet, bread crumbs Ready to eat; better sauteed
Knackwurst Precooked, Smoked Beef, pork, lots of garlic, cumin Ready to eat
Linguica Cured, Smoked Pork butt, lots of garlic, cumin, cinnamon, vinegar Usually ready to eat
Pepperoni Air-dried Pork, beef, lots of black and red pepper Usually ready to eat
Chorizo Dry, Smoked Pork, cilantro, paprika, garlic, chili powder, very spicy Usually ready to eat
Mortadella Semi-Dry, Smoked Cubes of pork fat, pork, beef, peppercorns, garlic, anise Steam, Fry, Grill, Bake to 155 degrees F
Hot Dogs Cooked, Smoked, Cured Cured beef and pork, garlic, salt, sugar, mustard, pepper Ready to eat
Bockwurst Fresh Veal, pork, milk, chives, eggs Steam, Saute, Bake to 155 degrees F
Bologna Cooked, Smoked Cured beef and pork, garlic, salt Ready to eat