Wisconsin Style Beer Brats
Memorial Day weekend is considered the official beginning of summer for a lot of people. Attractions such as amusement parks, marinas, and golf courses are geared up with summer help ready for the onslaught of patrons to arrive. Campground reservations have been made, tents have been unpacked, and picnics are planned. This weekend also marks the official kick off of the BBQ season for many (seems odd to me since my season is year-round). Stores have advertised weekend specials perfect for the grill, and charcoal sales are up. Time to cook outside.
It was the summer I was twenty-two that I spent the ‘tourist season’ (Memorial to Labor day) bartending in the fabulous Wisconsin Dells. Some friends I had made while working at the ski area convinced me to move to the Dells for the summer to see a different aspect of life. My connections got me a job working at a “six-flags” type venue which was owned by the Dells Boat Tour Company. It was a fun experience for me, and I still have fond memories of it to this day.
It was during my time in the Dells that I became a huge fan of the bratwurst. Wisconsin people are very proud of their German heritage, and take their bratwurst very seriously. The Sheboygan brat, considered by many to be the king of the sausages became my favorite. Even more controversial than which brat is best, would be which method of preparation is correct. There are differing schools of thought on this topic, and many a cold Leinenkugel has been tossed back discussing them. The one I will share with you is a technique that I learned and believe to be the best. If you would like to debate this….. well as long as you show up with some brats and some brews, I would be happy to discuss.
- Bratwurst However many you want
- beer domestic light is fine
- onion rough chopped (divided)
- assorted peppers chopped (jalapeno too if you want)
- onion, rough chopped (divided)
- Place the brats and half of the onion in a sauce pan. Fill with enough beer to cover.
- Simmer the brats over a low heat for 15 – 20 minutes or until they turn pale.
- Meanwhile in a skillet sauté the assorted peppers and balance of the onion to use as a topping.
- Place the brats on the grill over medium heat. The brats are already cooked at this point, so the object here is simply to get some color on them and give them the grilled flavor.
- Return the grilled brats to the pan of beer and onion. Hold them over low heat to keep them hot until serving.
- You can also use sauerkraut in a similar fashion. Place the kraut in the bottom of a baking dish and lay the brats on top. Cover with foil and warm them over indirect heat. The steam from the sauerkraut will cook the brats and ready them for the grill. Return them to the pan after grilling to hold.
There are many different methods to cooking brats, this is simply the one I recommend. Use a good quality bratwurst. The end result will never be better than the ingredients you start with.
There are lots of kinds of sausage on the market. I tend to stay away from the ones that contain cheese, as they tend to catch on fire due to the higher fat content. Cheese is better as a topping than a filling.
Toast some buns and you’re good to go. Top your bratwurst with peppers, onions, and spicy mustard. Now, with a brat in one hand, and a cold beer in the other, you’re on your way to a great holiday weekend. Ready?………Open wide!