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Bratwurst question

b
brooklynmasala Jun 14, 2004 01:50 PM

How do I heat/cook bratwurst? I assume it is fully cooked and I remember hearing something about boiling in beer? Anyone have more exact suggestions.

  1. t
    Tugboat Jun 14, 2004 01:56 PM

    It is not cooked.

    For me the best way is to boil first (beer is cool, but you can also just use water) and then grill.

    It helps keep it juicy and fully cooked.

    1. s
      Sven Jun 14, 2004 02:00 PM

      Boil in a mixture of beer, spicy mustard and onions. Then grill the brats and top with the onions.

      1. m
        muD Jun 14, 2004 02:12 PM

        They sell pre-cooked bratwurst, but they are evil and sell a lot of things including, cheddar brats, mexican flavored brats, apple flavored brats, and any other flavor you can find in the chip aisle. You best double-check if they are precooked because that is not a good assumption.

        So assuming you start with a real bratwurst there are two camps of bitterly divided opinion in Wisconsin, or the ancestral home of the brat. One is to grill it (a total of ~20 min) keeping an eye on it at all times moving it out of flare ups and turning it as it gets those good grill marks. Proper technique: In one hand you hold your tongs and in the other a beer. The other camp simmers the brats in a pan of beer and onions. Once they are fully cooked, they are placed on the grill for a few minutes to get those grill marks and impart some grilled flavor. Proper technique: you use cheap beer because it is sad enough you have to sacrifice a beer (all beers are equal, some are more equal then others) - extra credit if you simmer the brats in a pan of beer and onions on the grill.

        They should then be served on a hardroll if you live around Sheboygan. Other bread products are used the further away you get. Mustard, chopped onion and sauerkraut as condiments shouldn't get you into too much trouble. I believe the Silver Springs mustard with horseradish is what they serve at Lambeau field.

        2 Replies
        1. re: muD
          r
          Razzle P. Cleff Jun 14, 2004 03:09 PM

          Please define hardroll in Sheboygen (Gezuntite)

          1. re: Razzle P. Cleff
            m
            muD Jun 15, 2004 01:15 PM

            You're best off going to Milwaukee or Sheboygen, although the number of good German bakeries where you can get crawlers for breakfast and hardrolls for dinner is in serious decline I'm told.

            A thicker crust, chewy crumb, in a sandwich roll shape.

        2. r
          rl Jun 14, 2004 02:56 PM

          If they are fully cooked, it will say so on the package and most likely they will be whitish in color (like Boar's Head). If they are not cooked, they will look like, well, uncooked sausage (like Johsonville brats - even though they now have a cooked brat too.) I find that cooked brats are usually sold in the hot dog section, uncooked are usually in the sausage section of your grocer's coolers.

          For already cooked brats, I usually cut cross hatches on one side of the brat and pan fry in some butter or cook on the outdoor grill remmebering to turn the brat many times to avoid burning the casing.

          For uncooked brats, I will simmer (not boil) them in beer and onions(low hopped beers work best like an american lager. Bud works fine - I like a dark, malty beer like Spaten Dopplebock). Then I cook on the grill to brown them up.

          I actually made some (previously uncooked) on Sat. using the technique above and they came out very juicy and flavorful. I also sauted some kraut (without most of the brine) with chopped garlic, onion, and a little olive oil. My girlfriend loved them so much, she had seconds.

          I suggest serving with a spicy mustard and your favorite beer. German lagers and hefewiezens are my preferred styles to drink while eating my Bratwurst semmel mit kraut.

          6 Replies
          1. re: rl
            a
            AlanH™ Jun 14, 2004 03:29 PM

            IMHO, you've got this backwards. Grill first, THEN put into simmering beer along with onions and if desired, butter. Also, I would never cut the casing until you're done cooking and you're removing them from the grill. You want to keep all the pork-y goodness inside.

            1. re: AlanH™
              d
              dj Jun 16, 2004 11:25 AM

              If I remember correctly the Weber cookbook says to grill first simmer second. That's the way I've done it for years and they are always crisp and juicy.

              1. re: dj
                a
                AlanH™ Jun 16, 2004 12:08 PM

                Exactly. Thank you. Many people do it the other way, thinking that intutively it is the way to go, but intuition is often wrong.

                1. re: AlanH™
                  m
                  Mike Newman Jun 17, 2004 11:16 AM

                  Can you folks please explain why it's better to grill first, simmer second? If you do it the other way around, ie, simmer first, grill second, you are sure your sausages are cooked through and all you need to think about is browning and crisping them. Plus, you can eat them hot off the grill. My sense was that you simmer after grilling only if you are cooking for a crowd and want to hold finished brats for a while.

                  1. re: Mike Newman
                    a
                    AlanH™ Jun 17, 2004 02:38 PM

                    If you simmer first, in theory the concept is to add beer flavor to the brats. The problem is that most of the beer which is absorbed will drain out with the fat when you grill it. If you grill first (and slowly--none of this 3 minute grilling nonsense!), you get them nice and brown, and pretty much cooked. You then simmer them in beer and onions, thereby adding the beer and onion flavor, plus you can easily serve them up with the onions using a slotted spoon or tongs. I've tried both ways, many times over. Either way works, but grilling first yields superior results, IMHO.

              2. re: AlanH™
                d
                dj Jun 16, 2004 11:25 AM

                If I remember correctly the Weber cookbook says to grill first simmer second. That's the way I've done it for years and they are always crisp and juicy.

            2. a
              applehome Jun 15, 2004 12:12 AM

              There are different styles. A good metzgerei (like Karl's Sausage House north of Boston) sells several. There is fine ground, coarse ground, and rostbratwurst, which is a larger coarse ground intended for grilling. The fine is normaly sold pre-cooked and is white, while the coarse ones are usually raw and look like Italian sausage - you can see the raw meat through the semi-clear casing. You normally boil the fine and boil/grill the coarse ones but the fine are also delicious grilled. You can just grill them until it turns brown. Slice the skin diagonally - make narrow slits - on two sides before placing on the grill or they'll explode into a hideous looking mess (still tastes good).

              One thing we like to do with brats and beef sausages too, is to slice them up and make curry-ketchup (mix in some curry powder into ketchup) and dip the slices into it. This was very popular in Germany.

              The best way to boil is not beer, but a chacrute type recipe - with sauerkraut in some broth and some wine - a Reisling Kabinett or a Pinot Gris - maybe a Sauvignon Blanc - something fruity but relatively dry. Find some smoked porkchops (from the metzger - kessler ripchen) and throw them in first... Wisconsinites may think they own the brat and that it goes only with beer, but having lived in Germany for three years, I can tell you that there's nothing like the classic original recipes. (Not that there wasn't a lot of beer involved, just not necessarily used for cooking.)

              3 Replies
              1. re: applehome
                r
                rl Jun 15, 2004 10:25 AM

                You're comments about Germany are very interesting. What section did you live in? When I visited Munich and Dusseldorf I only saw bier - but these cities' cultures are practically based on bier. Everyone I saw was enjoying bier with their brats, not wine - so I am curious to find out what region you are talking about.

                1. re: rl
                  a
                  applehome Jun 15, 2004 02:41 PM

                  Im Schwartzwald nach Baden. Near Baden-baden and of course, the French side - Strasbourg. There is both wine and beer all over Germany, but the chacroute is French. A real chacroute involves much, much more - smoked hocks, several different sausages, etc. But the restaurants in the black forest had the sauerkraut with the wursts (Brats, Baurnwurst, blutwurst) usually in broth and wine. The Upper Rhine has gone back and forth a lot - they may deny it and the official languages may be different, but the foods reveal the relationship. I had daily beer deliveries at my apartment - just like we used to get daily milk deliveries - took away the empties and left fresh stuff - the main local brew was Stuttgartner Hofbrau, although there were lots of closer small ones. So there was plenty of beer. And plenty of wine and plenty of schwarzwald schinken, shmaltzbrot... shnitzels... I need to get back there soon.

                2. re: applehome
                  m
                  muD Jun 15, 2004 01:27 PM

                  I didn't live in Germany, but have been there several times. While I've enjoyed many a sausage there (the sausage, the bread, the bier, the wein, so much goodness and a restaurant that serves pork 300 ways), Cheeseheads have taken the brat for themselves. I've found the bratwurst in Germany to be too finely ground and too much veal.

                  I've also never had a problem with blowouts on the grill. That is why the proper technique of constant watching with a beer in one hand (so you don't become unbalanced when you use the tongs and have a horrible grilling related accident) is so important. As for this other sacrilege I suppose you do something other then grilled peppers and onions on your Italians.

                3. d
                  David Z Jun 15, 2004 08:44 PM

                  If you have raw brats, which you should, simmer them in some beer and sliced onions. You really don't have to do this, but in my opinion it makes for a tastier brat, and I love those beer soaked onions on the finished product.

                  As far as grilling, DO NOT PUNCTURE OR SLICE THE CASINGS! You will end up with dry sausages. Grilling a good brat is kinda like making risotto, you can't walk away from it. Constant turning and moving of the brats is necessary to achieve even cooking and browning.
                  I have found that it helps to cook them with as much indirect heat as possible, moving the coals to one side of the Weber or putting the coals in the middle and grilling the brats around the edges of the grill. Try to leave yourself with a cooler spot in the grill to put the brats that are brown enough but still need a little heat.

                  And yes you do need a beer in one hand to counter balance the weight of the tongs in the other hand or the brats will never turn out right.

                  1. b
                    Bob Martinez Jun 16, 2004 09:30 AM

                    Time for some heresy.

                    I pierce my brats. And start to finish the cooking takes 6 minutues.

                    I'm sure all the cooking methods given by the previous posters work fine - I've never tried them because I never found them necessary.

                    I cook the brats on a well heated gas grill (another piece of heresy - and it's not even a Weber!). I preheat for 10 minutes and pierce the brats about 3 or 4 times otherwise they'll split. Three minutes on one side, flip, and 3 minutes on the other. They come out golden brown and juicy. (The above method works well with raw brats like Johnsonville and fresh Polish kielbasa.)

                    Italian sausage has a higher fat content and will tend to flare up more. I keep one burner on high and cook the sausage over the 2nd which I lower to medium. Once again, 3 minutes on a side and they come out juicy and nicely browned. Because of the higher fat they need to be watched a bit more for flare ups. Move them off to the side of the grill if there's too much flame.

                    The 2nd method also works well with pre-cooked sausages like Karl Ehmer brats and Hilsihire Frarms sausage and kielbasa.

                    No muss, no fuss, just quick and tasty sausages.

                    Finally, I suggest you serve them on lightly toasted Martin's Long Rolls. They are a soft and delicious roll made from potato dough and their round brothers were the bun of choice at last weekend's New York BBQ festival.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Bob Martinez
                      m
                      muD Jun 16, 2004 02:08 PM

                      You can rest at ease, when you're put before the Inquisition for using a gas grill the brand won't matter:)

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