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Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Perfect Brat

Beer and Bratwurst is a summertime tradition around the Three Dogs household.  What makes it even better is that our local butcher, Dave's Country Meats, makes the best bratwurst that I have ever had.  He must have a little German in him for sure.  Anyway, I digress.

My stepfather Mike turned me on to bratwurst.  He lived in Milwaukee and Usinger's was the local brand.  When I first started making beer and brats, I committed two very egregious sins.  One, instead of a nice simmer, I would boil the crap out of the brats, shrivelling the skin and letting out all of the juices. Two, I would grill the crap out of them as well, leaving me with a burnt outside and a dry interior.  Never the less, I did like them.  But, over the years my technique has evolved so that I make, what I believe, to be the perfect grilled beer and brat.  Let me show you how.

First, beer selection is key.  This is one mistake I never made.  I never used Buttwiper or Chick Lite.  It was always a darker, full bodied beer.  Usually it is Yeungling Lager, but sometimes it would be a darker German offering.  For this cook, we used Dogfish 90 Minute Imperial IPA.

I love Dogfish IPA.  The 60 Minute variety is a nice session beer.  Clear, crisp, and sufficiently hoppy. the 90 Minute is not a session beer.  Hope bought me a case, not knowing that I usually buy the 60 Minute.  The 90 Minute is very hoppy, very full bodied, well suited for cold weather consumption, and only good for one or two at a time.  Therefore, this case has been relegated to cooking beer and perhaps some consumption when the pumpkin starts to get frosty around here.

So, I place the brats in a saucepan with the beer and turn the heat on low.  Once the beer starts to simmer, I allow the bratwurst to simmer for about two minutes, then I remove from the heat and sit on the side, keeping the saucepan covered.

You know you are done when the brat takes on that gray look of cooked sausage.  The casing should still be intact.

Next, I take the saucepan out to my hot grill and place the brats on direct heat.

As soon as casing starts to split and it has a nice brown crispy look, about two to three minutes, I flip them over and crisp the other side for about two to three more minutes.  Remember, they were cooked in the beer.  You are just browning them and adding that grilled flavor.

Once done, I place them back in my warm beer bath until served.

This is a good technique if you are making brats for the masses.  I place the warm beer in chafing pans, then the grilled brat goes into the pan.  With your Sterno keeping the pan warm, the brats happily swim in the beer bath until being picked out for a bun and some mustard.  If you are lucky and get the last one, it has sopped up a lot of hoppy goodness from the beer.  A true treat.

I placed my brat on a sausage roll with some diced sweet onion and a generous squirt of spicy brown mustard.  I like our local brand, Steel City Spicy Brown Mustard.

There you have it, the perfect grilled bratwurst.

Thanks for stopping by,


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