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Bratwurst - How best to serve

Bratwurst - How best to serve
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  • Bratwurst - How best to serve

    Post #1 - June 23rd, 2006, 2:43 pm
    Post #1 - June 23rd, 2006, 2:43 pm Post #1 - June 23rd, 2006, 2:43 pm
    I have received a box of frozen Allen Bros. pre-cooked Wisconsin brats. I plan to serve them on July 4 and will have the grill fired-up for the traditional dogs and burgers.

    Would it be best to simply thaw and heat them over the coals like I will do with the hot dogs? Or will there be any benefit in heating them in beer and finishing them on them grill? Or what else should I do? I was going to serve them with the same rolls I'll be using for the hot-dogs. Same fixings as hot dogs? Some of the guests are from your neck of the woods so I want to try and do it right for them.

    Bill/SFNM
  • Post #2 - June 23rd, 2006, 3:14 pm
    Post #2 - June 23rd, 2006, 3:14 pm Post #2 - June 23rd, 2006, 3:14 pm
    Personally, I like to boil them in beer and onions and finish them on the grill. The Beer boiled onions and brown mustard are my preferred topping, but many people prefer sauerkraut and/or chopped raw onion.

    Hot dog buns are ok, but if you can find a soft, slightly larger bun (Brownberry makes a good one), that wold be better.
  • Post #3 - June 23rd, 2006, 3:21 pm
    Post #3 - June 23rd, 2006, 3:21 pm Post #3 - June 23rd, 2006, 3:21 pm
    I haven't done brats too often, but I always thought you grill-brown first, and then add to a beer-onion hot tub to cook through.

    I like 'em with good brown mustard and chopped raw onion only, on a good roll. Most places around here will serve them on a small, soft sub roll, but I prefer the roll to have at least some crustiness to the outside of it. A standard hot dog bun just doesn't hold up.

    Bill, are you baking the bread or buying it?
  • Post #4 - June 23rd, 2006, 3:39 pm
    Post #4 - June 23rd, 2006, 3:39 pm Post #4 - June 23rd, 2006, 3:39 pm
    eatchicago wrote:I haven't done brats too often, but I always thought you grill-brown first, and then add to a beer-onion hot tub to cook through.


    This is how they do 'em in Sheboygan. Although, I don't think the post-grill bath is for cooking through. I think it's for keeping them warm and preventing them from drying out. Also, I believe there's butter in the beer/onion bath as well. :)
  • Post #5 - June 23rd, 2006, 3:41 pm
    Post #5 - June 23rd, 2006, 3:41 pm Post #5 - June 23rd, 2006, 3:41 pm
    viaChgo wrote:
    eatchicago wrote:I haven't done brats too often, but I always thought you grill-brown first, and then add to a beer-onion hot tub to cook through.


    This is how they do 'em in Sheboygan. Although, I don't think the post-grill bath is for cooking through. I think it's for keeping them warm and preventing them from drying out. Also, I believe there's butter in the beer/onion bath as well. :)


    Ah, yeah that makes sense.

    Also, I think there's even butter in the water in Sheboygan. :) ;)
  • Post #6 - June 23rd, 2006, 3:52 pm
    Post #6 - June 23rd, 2006, 3:52 pm Post #6 - June 23rd, 2006, 3:52 pm
    The way I have always done it is this: Put butter in a pan over your fire, put in the sliced onions, brown or steam them into submission. Then add beer and allow to heat up. THEN you gently cook your brats. When done, put them into the butter, beer and onion mixture, with the pan moved over to almost the side of the fire. This will keep the brats serviceable for a long time. One note: I use this method with fresh brats, but I am sure cooked brats will work as well.
  • Post #7 - June 23rd, 2006, 4:04 pm
    Post #7 - June 23rd, 2006, 4:04 pm Post #7 - June 23rd, 2006, 4:04 pm
    Please allow me to direct you to G Wiv's post of 07/09/05: link to post

    I have encountered no tastier way to prepare a brat. You will notice that G Wiv's method calls for fresh brats. However, it is often the case that I am limited to pre-cooked brats -- too bad, but the results are still pleasing. I suggest that you leave yourself time to prepare the onion/mustard reduction -- it's a great touch.

    -Peter
  • Post #8 - June 23rd, 2006, 4:31 pm
    Post #8 - June 23rd, 2006, 4:31 pm Post #8 - June 23rd, 2006, 4:31 pm
    I have found that a cheap and slightly sweet Wisconsin lager works best for cooking brats, something like Huber or Leinenkugel or Point (Old Style or PBR in a pinch). Anything too hoppy (like a pale ale) makes the brats bitter, and anything too malty makes them carmelize when grilled (in a burnt sugar way).
  • Post #9 - June 23rd, 2006, 5:35 pm
    Post #9 - June 23rd, 2006, 5:35 pm Post #9 - June 23rd, 2006, 5:35 pm
    peterc wrote:Please allow me to direct you to G Wiv's post of 07/09/05: link to post

    I have encountered no tastier way to prepare a brat. You will notice that G Wiv's method calls for fresh brats. However, it is often the case that I am limited to pre-cooked brats -- too bad, but the results are still pleasing. I suggest that you leave yourself time to prepare the onion/mustard reduction -- it's a great touch.

    -Peter


    Bill,

    I"m surprised you didn't track some of the threads for brats on the Smokering discussing the necessity of 27 holes being poked by a 4 prong kitchen fork. :D

    They are great cooked this way.
    Bruce
    Plenipotentiary
    bruce@bdbbq.com

    Raw meat should NOT have an ingredients list!!
  • Post #10 - June 23rd, 2006, 6:40 pm
    Post #10 - June 23rd, 2006, 6:40 pm Post #10 - June 23rd, 2006, 6:40 pm
    Bruce,

    I *think* G Wiv demands 28 holes by a 3-pronged fork. Makes a diff.

    And I stick with my KC method, as outlined in the thread linked above.

    I should point out that, even as we speak, I'm wearing my Wisconsin road map t-shirt from Wal Mart. Makes things even more authoritative. Really.

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #11 - June 23rd, 2006, 8:46 pm
    Post #11 - June 23rd, 2006, 8:46 pm Post #11 - June 23rd, 2006, 8:46 pm
    Geo wrote:Bruce,

    I *think* G Wiv demands 28 holes by a 3-pronged fork. Makes a diff.

    Geo


    There was quite a "discussion" concerning this subject in the past. Maybe Gwiv will address the end result. :)
    Bruce
    Plenipotentiary
    bruce@bdbbq.com

    Raw meat should NOT have an ingredients list!!
  • Post #12 - June 23rd, 2006, 9:23 pm
    Post #12 - June 23rd, 2006, 9:23 pm Post #12 - June 23rd, 2006, 9:23 pm
    Bruce wrote:There was quite a "discussion" concerning this subject in the past. Maybe Gwiv will address the end result. :)

    Bruce,

    Geo is absolutely correct, 28 holes with a 3-pronged fork. The reasoning behind the three-pronged fork is solid, you want the holes spaced out enough so there is even absorption of the soaking liquid in the brat. A fork with 4-tines is too close together and a 2-pronged fork will not allow enough of the liquid to penetrate.

    Please see link for the Rest of the Story.

    Frankly, what I'm having trouble wrapping my head around is the image of Iron Chef BBQ, Bill/SFNM using precooked brats.

    Methinks someone needs a Miesfeld's care package. :!:

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #13 - June 24th, 2006, 5:12 am
    Post #13 - June 24th, 2006, 5:12 am Post #13 - June 24th, 2006, 5:12 am
    G Wiv wrote:
    Bruce wrote:There was quite a "discussion" concerning this subject in the past. Maybe Gwiv will address the end result. :)

    Bruce,

    Geo is absolutely correct, 28 holes with a 3-pronged fork. The reasoning behind the three-pronged fork is solid, you want the holes spaced out enough so there is even absorption of the soaking liquid in the brat. A fork with 4-tines is too close together and a 2-pronged fork will not allow enough of the liquid to penetrate.

    Please see link for the Rest of the Story.

    Frankly, what I'm having trouble wrapping my head around is the image of Iron Chef BBQ, Bill/SFNM using precooked brats.

    Methinks someone needs a Miesfeld's care package. :!:

    Enjoy,
    Gary


    I knew there was a scientific reason for "forking" the brats, instead of one of your infamous "peccadillos".

    I too, was astounded by Iron Chef BBQ's use of pre-cooked brats. Normally I would have expected at least fresh made, and their use only in an emergency. Maybe Bill also needs a sausage stuffer.
    Bruce
    Plenipotentiary
    bruce@bdbbq.com

    Raw meat should NOT have an ingredients list!!
  • Post #14 - June 24th, 2006, 5:49 am
    Post #14 - June 24th, 2006, 5:49 am Post #14 - June 24th, 2006, 5:49 am
    G Wiv wrote:Frankly, what I'm having trouble wrapping my head around is the image of Iron Chef BBQ, Bill/SFNM using precooked brats.

    Methinks someone needs a Miesfeld's care package. :!:


    Bruce wrote:I too, was astounded by Iron Chef BBQ's use of pre-cooked brats. Normally I would have expected at least fresh made, and their use only in an emergency. Maybe Bill also needs a sausage stuffer.


    d4v3 wrote:I have found that a cheap and slightly sweet Wisconsin lager works best for cooking brats, something like Huber or Leinenkugel or Point (Old Style or PBR in a pinch). Anything too hoppy (like a pale ale) makes the brats bitter, and anything too malty makes them carmelize when grilled (in a burnt sugar way).


    I've made fresh brats in the past and frankly (pun intended), I was not very pleased and, thanks to d4v3, I think I know why - I've been cooking them in a pale ale. Brilliant!

    So I'm going to reconsider this whole project. Tell me about this Miesfeld's place. Which of their brats doe you recommend?

    Does it help my sullied image any that I'll be baking all of the buns for burgers, dogs, and brats from scratch? That I'm grinding the burger beef myself? :oops:

    Thanks to everyone for all the help.

    Bill/SFNM
  • Post #15 - June 24th, 2006, 12:30 pm
    Post #15 - June 24th, 2006, 12:30 pm Post #15 - June 24th, 2006, 12:30 pm
    Bill,

    You want the Grand Champion brats (they also sell a midget size which is fun).

    You get points for baking your own buns!

    Now, tho', can you make a gen-you-wine Sheboygan *hard* bun (or semmel)? Those things are marvy with the brats.

    http://www.bratwurstpages.com/bratsides.html

    For a nice discussion of the whole subject, catch

    http://natsci.edgewood.edu/facstaff/goll_sheboygan.htm

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #16 - June 26th, 2006, 2:18 pm
    Post #16 - June 26th, 2006, 2:18 pm Post #16 - June 26th, 2006, 2:18 pm
    If you cook meat, aren't things on their way out of the meat making the said holes exit portals and not entrances? I am of the opinion that brats (uncooked, of course) are to be grilled and eaten immediately. No piercing. All those sticky, sweet Maillard browning reactions are rinsed off if placed in liquid afterwards. That technique should only be used to keep a load of brats from getting cold and wrinkly. Think about it. Would you seriously consider rinsing off a grilled steak, ribs, or roasted chiles?

    And boiling first.?.... Not. That means you are grilling a precooked brat which everyone knows is one step above a hotdog in the microwave.

    The best brats I have ever had are Vollwerth's in the UP. Raw, of course.

    Kit


    G Wiv wrote:
    Bruce wrote:There was quite a "discussion" concerning this subject in the past. Maybe Gwiv will address the end result. :)

    Bruce,

    Geo is absolutely correct, 28 holes with a 3-pronged fork. The reasoning behind the three-pronged fork is solid, you want the holes spaced out enough so there is even absorption of the soaking liquid in the brat. A fork with 4-tines is too close together and a 2-pronged fork will not allow enough of the liquid to penetrate.

    Please see link for the Rest of the Story.

    Frankly, what I'm having trouble wrapping my head around is the image of Iron Chef BBQ, Bill/SFNM using precooked brats.

    Methinks someone needs a Miesfeld's care package. :!:

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    duck fat rules
  • Post #17 - June 27th, 2006, 2:48 am
    Post #17 - June 27th, 2006, 2:48 am Post #17 - June 27th, 2006, 2:48 am
    kit wrote:And boiling first.?.... Not. That means you are grilling a precooked brat which everyone knows is one step above a hotdog in the microwave.

    The pre-boiling of bratwurst in beer is a time-honored Wisconsin method. My in-laws make them that way, and produce decent sausage. Yet I always wonder why barbecue connoisseurs who would never think of pre-boiling their ribs (in beer, or anything else) would do that to anything better than a bland Johnsonville brat.

    With good bratwurst, I prefer to taste the sausagemaker's meat and seasonings, not beer, and I prefer the chewier texture of directly grilled bratwurst to the softer feel of parboiled brats. Uncooked brats do, however, need to be watched carefully on the grill to prevent flareups, and if you don't poke them at least once or twice they're likely to burst.

    Bill/SFNM, if your brats are already cooked, I suppose soaking them in hot beer won't hurt them, but you're probably better off just to grill them. Traditional toppings are brown mustard, caramelized onions and sauerkraut.
  • Post #18 - June 27th, 2006, 7:22 am
    Post #18 - June 27th, 2006, 7:22 am Post #18 - June 27th, 2006, 7:22 am
    Nobody is suggesting BOILING the brats. They are simmered in beer, not boiled (an important distinction). There are several reasons for simmering brats in beer before cooking. First, completely uncooked brats are more likely to split open on the grill. Secondly, brats are very full of fat. Simmering removes some of the fat while keeping the sausage moist. Thirdly, it makes them taste good.

    That said, I don't think I would pre-cook a really good brat or a true German veal brat (a completely different creature). If it had good flavor and was fairly light on fat, pre-cooking might not be desirable. Uncooked brats must be grilled very slowly over low heat to keep them from bursting. The next time I grill brats, I will try an experiment. I will heat some in a beer, onion and garlic mixture, some with holes and some without. Others, I will grill raw and some I will bathe in "batter". I will see which are the best and report back with my opinion.
  • Post #19 - June 27th, 2006, 9:41 am
    Post #19 - June 27th, 2006, 9:41 am Post #19 - June 27th, 2006, 9:41 am
    I don't think the casing will allow poaching to impart any flavor. As fas as fat removal, I haven't seen an appreciable amount of fat on the surface of the liquid. Also, fat is there for a reason and you don't want it removed.

    I await the results of you experiment.

    Kit

    d4v3 wrote:Nobody is suggesting BOILING the brats. They are simmered in beer, not boiled (an important distinction). There are several reasons for simmering brats in beer before cooking. First, completely uncooked brats are more likely to split open on the grill. Secondly, brats are very full of fat. Simmering removes some of the fat while keeping the sausage moist. Thirdly, it makes them taste good.

    That said, I don't think I would pre-cook a really good brat or a true German veal brat (a completely different creature). If it had good flavor and was fairly light on fat, pre-cooking might not be desirable. Uncooked brats must be grilled very slowly over low heat to keep them from bursting. The next time I grill brats, I will try an experiment. I will heat some in a beer, onion and garlic mixture, some with holes and some without. Others, I will grill raw and some I will bathe in "batter". I will see which are the best and report back with my opinion.
    duck fat rules
  • Post #20 - June 27th, 2006, 12:31 pm
    Post #20 - June 27th, 2006, 12:31 pm Post #20 - June 27th, 2006, 12:31 pm
    I'm with Kit on this: eagerly awaiting the results of d4v3's experiments. After all, it's the empirical data what counts.

    But I must remark that I was *ALways* in serious discussion with my pals and neighbors in Whitewater about this beer-simmering thing. I told them that, as a loyal son of Kansas City, there was no way I was going to let ANYthing containing mostly water anywheres NEAR my beautiful brats, most especially the Miesfielders. So it was indirect grill, slow, for me. Always.

    And, in secret whispers, most of my colleagues admitted that "your brats aren't so bad", which, to those of us who know Wisconsiners, means a lot.

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #21 - June 28th, 2006, 4:50 am
    Post #21 - June 28th, 2006, 4:50 am Post #21 - June 28th, 2006, 4:50 am
    Geo wrote:You want the Grand Champion brats (they also sell a midget size which is fun).

    Bill,

    Geo already steered you in the right direction, Grand Champ are Miesfeld's 'regular' brats.

    Much of the reason for the Wisconsin practice of either pre simmering or holding in beer/onion/hot sauce is the fact brats are party food. Rarely does a Wisconsinite cook brats for fewer then 20, even if it's just himself and 3 others. :) Either method facilitate serving a large number of drunks, which typically include the grill cook, rapidly.

    As I've expressed, I prefer the gentle pre simmer in beer/onion/hot sauce, not holding in liquid after cooking. As Kit so precisely stated "All those sticky, sweet Maillard browning reactions are rinsed off if placed in liquid afterwards."

    If one is not cooking for a huge drunk rowdy crowd, has the time and patience to slowly grill the sausage over a gentle fire and is not 9-beers in by the time the coals are started, they can reasonably omit the pre or post liquid stage.

    So, how many lbs of Miesfeld's did you order and are you going to run a Brat Experiment or three?

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #22 - June 28th, 2006, 6:00 am
    Post #22 - June 28th, 2006, 6:00 am Post #22 - June 28th, 2006, 6:00 am
    G Wiv wrote:So, how many lbs of Miesfeld's did you order and are you going to run a Brat Experiment or three?


    Gary,

    I decided to punt on the Brats for now - I don't want to serve them for my Chicago guests (who are also hard-core foodies) unless I can do it right. So eventually I'll order some fresh brats from Miesfeld's and experiment on my family before I go public. I do like the idea of slow grilling without the beer bath. I'll also play around with a few bun recipes to see what I like the best.

    On Tuesday, I think we'll have hot dogs, lardo-burgers, fried chicken, slaw, and cherry clafoutis.

    Thanks to all for the help.

    Bill/SFNM
  • Post #23 - June 28th, 2006, 7:23 am
    Post #23 - June 28th, 2006, 7:23 am Post #23 - June 28th, 2006, 7:23 am
    Gary--

    That is the most succinct, accurate, and, indeed, lyrical, explanation for a socio-culinarial cultural behavior I have ever seen. You are especially insightful when you note

    Rarely does a Wisconsinite cook brats for fewer then 20, even if it's just himself and 3 others.


    I have copied your whole description, and will keep it close unto my heart, as a paradigm of its type.

    Bravo!

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #24 - June 29th, 2006, 5:36 pm
    Post #24 - June 29th, 2006, 5:36 pm Post #24 - June 29th, 2006, 5:36 pm
    Geo wrote:That is the most succinct, accurate, and, indeed, lyrical, explanation for a socio-culinarial cultural behavior I have ever seen. You are especially insightful when you note

    Rarely does a Wisconsinite cook brats for fewer then 20, even if it's just himself and 3 others.

    Hear, hear! At last, an explanation that makes sense.

    d4v3, I also eagerly await your experiment.

    Bill/SFNM, I hope the kidding here hasn't prompted you do anything rash -- like pitching those pre-cooked brats. Any bratwurst is better than no bratwurst. If you grill them, they won't be perfection, but they'll still be good.

    A favorite trick of ours is to grill extra brats, wrap well and refrigerate or freeze for latenight snacks. They warm up pretty well in the microwave. It's not like fresh off the fire, but in the category of 3-minute dinners, it's hard to do better.
  • Post #25 - June 30th, 2006, 7:54 am
    Post #25 - June 30th, 2006, 7:54 am Post #25 - June 30th, 2006, 7:54 am
    LAZ wrote:A favorite trick of ours is to grill extra brats, wrap well and refrigerate or freeze for latenight snacks. They warm up pretty well in the microwave. It's not like fresh off the fire, but in the category of 3-minute dinners, it's hard to do better.


    LAZ,

    I thought you might have had an excellent marketing idea until I cam across this:
    Image

    Flip
    "Beer is proof God loves us, and wants us to be Happy"
    -Ben Franklin-
  • Post #26 - June 30th, 2006, 2:34 pm
    Post #26 - June 30th, 2006, 2:34 pm Post #26 - June 30th, 2006, 2:34 pm
    Flip, I've actually tried those. If you use Johnsonville's fresh product as a basis for comparison, they compare very well to brats that have been parcooked, grilled and reheated. A little soft, a little lacking in char-grilled flavor, and kind of bland, as Johnsonville's regular product is, but certainly edible.

    If you like Johsonville bratwurst, and don't have easy access to a grill, they're probably worth trying. As I said, any bratwurst is better than no bratwurst. (FWIW, they scored very high on the finicky feline deliciousness meter.)
  • Post #27 - June 30th, 2006, 2:54 pm
    Post #27 - June 30th, 2006, 2:54 pm Post #27 - June 30th, 2006, 2:54 pm
    LAZ,

    A certain family member, who shall remain nameless, purchased those one time for a family picnic. Your description of them is spot on. I guess I was just a little bored this morning.

    Flip
    "Beer is proof God loves us, and wants us to be Happy"
    -Ben Franklin-
  • Post #28 - July 5th, 2006, 12:14 pm
    Post #28 - July 5th, 2006, 12:14 pm Post #28 - July 5th, 2006, 12:14 pm
    Had a bunch of left over buns from yesterday's party, so I decided to grill up the pre-cooked brats. Served on grilled bun with caramelized onions and spicy mustard. They were just great - I can't imagine how fresh could be any better, but I'm looking forward to trying some from Miesfelds.

    Image


    Image

    Bill/SFNM
  • Post #29 - July 5th, 2006, 12:37 pm
    Post #29 - July 5th, 2006, 12:37 pm Post #29 - July 5th, 2006, 12:37 pm
    OK Bill, tell us about the buns...

    Geo
    PS. The brats DO look great, btw.
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #30 - July 5th, 2006, 12:48 pm
    Post #30 - July 5th, 2006, 12:48 pm Post #30 - July 5th, 2006, 12:48 pm
    Geo wrote:OK Bill, tell us about the buns...


    Thanks, Geo. Just the standard bun I use for hot dogs, hamburgers, pulled pork - very soft, but with enough structure so they don't fall apart while eating.

    I made 32 of them for this meal - ingredients include bread flour, wild yeast starter, butter, eggs, potato flour, dried milk, sugar, salt. Before serving, I like to butter the inside surfaces and lightly brown them on a griddle.

    Maybe these aren't the "authentic" buns for brats, but never having tried the real thing, I have no idea. They worked for me.

    Bill/SFNM

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