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Nov 17, 2012 06:35 AM

Real Bratwurst - How to???

I would like to find great bratwurst recipe. Years ago I was passing through Iowa and stopped in a small town (I think Iowa City) for the annual Tulip Festival. The community prepared many different foods including the best brats I've tasted in my life. Commercially available brats have been a sad substitution. If anyone can share or help me to find a great recipe and the techniques for making real brats, I would be very grateful.

I did find a good process on the site:
But I would still like to the recipe for those coarse ground Iowa style brats.

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  1. i like to steam in a covered pan.....followed by browning, either in the same pan or on the grill.

    Steamed in beer with lots of onions or cabbage also works.

    1. Sausage making is a huge division of charcuterie. Bratwurst is a type of emulsified sausage, usually cooked and/or smoked.
      I don't have your particular recipe in hand, but I'd suggest getting a basic brat method down pat and go from there.
      Ruhlman's "Charcuterie" is all the rage today
      He deals briefly with bratwurst.
      A more detailed, although dated, book (IMO) is Kutas "Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing"
      A lot of info!

      Maybe read a few books, choose your favorite method and tackle that. Once you're happy, go from there and zone into exactly what you want.

      2 Replies
      1. re: porker

        Bratwurst is not always an emulsified sausage.

        1. re: The Professor

          and the "Real" ones do not come from Iowa ( - :

      2. As mentioned above, read up on Ruhlman's books and go from there.

        He also does his own blog and will answer any question you have via e-mail or contacting his blog. BTDT.
        He's Cleveland based.

        As a fellow Ohioan, I get access to the coarse Wisconsin style stadium brats as well as the very finely ground white German style brats and about 5 to 10 other types as well. Some by local butchers. Most via the multiples of sausage makers we have in the area.

        Bratwurst is a very "general" term. But reading some Charcuterie books and contacting Michael will get you on the right path I guarantee you.

        And, as far as i know, there is no "special" Iowa style brat out there having been to and thru Iowa more times than I can count.

        I'm guessing it was a local or common blend of meat ans spices.

        Heck, my local butcher up the road makes their own bratwurst with a special spice blend and I have even made my own at home, brought it up to them and had them stuff and case it for a nominal fee.

        Totally worth it. [thumbup]

        1 Reply
        1. re: jjjrfoodie

          I did a little hunting and found that there's only one butcher in the town that I referred to as Iowa City. The actual town is Orange City, Iowa. The brats were course ground, lean and no gristle. Here's their site:
          The area I live in has never seen a good brat. looks like a great start.

        2. I had a pretty good recipe from Bon Appetit ca. 1980s sometime, but can't find it. When I want brats I've been making do with the usual suspects, while remembering riding around Louisville with my brother in the late '70s and going into a little corner store, really part of the guy's house, and smelling that mace-and-porkfat whang of handmade brats and then leaving with a big package of them. Heaven! So I was delighted to find that Trader Joe's Hofbrau Brats both smell and taste exactly like those, or as near as I can reckon after 30+ years. I do not remember beer as an ingredient in those bygone ones, but except for a slight whiff in the aroma of the raw sausages it seems to make no great difference.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Will Owen

            Theres a small story in the Kutas book about "beer sausage".
            He said he ran a business called the Hickory Shop in Las Vegas in the 60s. He supplied about 80% of the bars with this smoked Polish sausage, producing 4000lbs per week. The bars steamed the sausage in 1/2 can of beer, thus "beer" sausage.
            I can imagine a 1960 Las Vegas bar, full of cigarette smoke, stale beer smell, but cutting through all that, the aroma of steamed Polish sausage.
            OK, not a true "brat", but romantic (to me) all the same....

            1. re: Will Owen

              Hi Will,
              I thought I was the lone survivor who had seen that recipe for Bratwurst. I have been trying to replicate that recipe for years, and as many trying to find it. Did you ever find it? I'm just thankful for your post acknowledging that it was Bon Appetit. It was so many years ago started to think I dreamed it. I'm going to write them and see if they'll respond, now that I'm sure it was their magazine. And it was the best Bratwurst I've ever made, and have frustrated ever since. Lived in Germany for a few years and it was the closest think I could remember to what I ate has a kid there. Thanks

            2. "bratwurst" seems to be a very general term. It's a sausage that is fresh and it contains some or all pork. Other than that, there seems no universal common thread.

              The first, and best "bratwurst" I had was in Frankfurt over 40 years ago, and it was the commonest available sausage at lunch counters, beer halls, etc. This sausage was pork, fine ground, @ 1/3 lb., and white. It was served on brotchen and on lunch plates. For me, this is the ultimate exemplar of bratwurst.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Sharuf

                I'm curious about what makes a white brat or sausage. I saw a video from an Italian butcher shop where 30% skin was added to the grind to make a white sausage. I've avoided white brats and sausages as I've never "understood" them, especially after seeing the skin video. Is it just a way to dispose of skin, a cheap filler or what? I'm willing to try one just for the experience like the Southern Style Red Hots made from hog snouts. Once was enough, tasted OK, but it's not something I would serve my family on a regular basis.

                1. re: Chuckit

                  Just curious why you have reservations about snouts?
                  On another note, I start with whole hind pork legs when making sausage (I usually make Italian sausage, both fresh and air-dried). I bone it out, removing all silverskin, sinew, and gristle.
                  I save the skin and grind it up, season, and stuff for cotechino - Italian skin sausage. I don't feel its a way to disposing the skin, nor a cheap filler - its the way to make a very delicious sausage: cotechino.

                  1. re: porker

                    Hey porker,
                    Snouts aren’t a natural choice for me. They tasted ok, but my influence has always been towards muscle mass. I look forward to trying anything different so I’ll try some skin sausages soon.

                    1. re: Chuckit

                      Just my 2c on grinding skin: its pretty tough on the gears of low end grinders (~$100 range) - I broke two of these on skin. I only use the hand-crank grinder when doing skin (and maybe one day when I have an industrial grinder, I'll pass the skin through that).
                      I season with salt/pepper/fennel seed/crushed chili/cayenne. Cooking time is longer with cotechino - works well in a tomato sauce braise.