At the risk of sending you into errand overload this weekend, we suggest that you pop in to a neighborhood ethnic market for some fresh sausages. The range of flavors you'll find will add depth to your weekly dinner repertoire.
After you spear the last of them from the grill, sizzling hot and slightly charred, you'll recall their superiority over the shrink-wrapped ones that lay next to the packages of turkey bacon and Lunchables on that first refrigerated aisle.
What's out there? On a recent run, we found:
* Coarsely ground pork links of German sausage and nuernberger bratwurst, a satisfying, coarsely ground blend of pork, flavored with garlic and marjoram; both cost $7.35 per pound, at the German Gourmet in Falls Church, 7185 Lee Hwy. Call 703-534-1908.
* Beef-and-lamb Lebanese sausages, which are richly dark, finger-sized, dry and sweet-tasting all at once; $5.99 per pound, at the Lebanese Butcher & Restaurant in Falls Church; 109 E. Annandale Road, 703-533-2903.
* Mild and hot Italian sausages, crafted by longtime sausage makers the Ferrante Brothers of Hyattsville. The hot ones have discernible red pepper flakes and yield big, chewy bites, and nearly beg to be served on a bun with onions and peppers. $3.99 per pound at The Italian Store in Arlington, 3123 Lee Hwy., 703-528-6266.
* Smoky, chunky, salty pork Argentinian sausage; $3.49 per pound at the small meat counter in the back of El-Chaparral Meat Market in Arlington; 2719 Wilson Blvd., 703-276-8337.
* Whiskey fennel sausage with onion and garlic and a texture especially good for the grill ; $8.99 per pound at Canales Quality Meats in the Eastern Market on Capitol Hill. We also recommend their Moroccan smoked turkey and chicken sausage, with its pistachios, bits of tomatoes and hint of spearmint. It was out of stock as of this edition, but certainly worth asking after; 225 7th St. SE, 202-547-0542.
* Pork Polish sausage, made by Pulaski Meats of Linden, N.J., is smoked tender and juicy, with a sweet aftertaste -- a far cry from the tightly cased, curved link you might have had before; $7.99 per pound at the Gourmet Polonez delicatessen and bakery in Silver Spring, 8113 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring; 301-495-2650.
-- Bonnie S. Benwick