By Harold McGee
Since their fragmented interior guarantees a certain kind of tenderness, sausages are often cooked very casually. But they benefit from being heated as carefully as other fresh meats. Five centuries ago, Platina remarked on the need to cook liver sausage gently (see box), and said that another sausage was called mortadella “because it is surely more pleasant a little raw than overcooked.” Fresh sausages should be thoroughly cooked to kill microbes, but no hotter than well-done meat, or 160°F/70°C. Gentle cooking prevents the interior from reaching the boil, at which point the skin will burst and leak moisture and flavor, and which hardens the texture. Intentionally piercing the skin will release moisture throughout the cooking, but provides insurance against more disfiguring splitting toward the end.