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Jun 14, 2004 01:50 PM

Bratwurst question

  • b

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.

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

      1. 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
          Razzle P. Cleff

          Please define hardroll in Sheboygen (Gezuntite)

          1. re: Razzle P. Cleff

            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. 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

            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™

              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

                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™

                  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

                    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™

                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. 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

                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

                  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

                  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.