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Old 09-17-2019, 06:26 PM
Mundane Super Hero is offline
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Beer Brats... or Why do these things taste better cooked plain?


The other day I bought a pack of Beer Brats. I didn't have access to a grill (and I didn't know the recipes) so I just slow browned them in a skillet and served them in hot-dog buns.

They were Great!

So... I read up on the recipes (and how I did it all wrong). I bought another pack (same brand). This time I put a can of Bud in a pot with sliced onions and garlic, brought it to a slow boil, added a brat for 5-6 minutes, then took it out with tongs, browned it on all sides in a skillet, and served it in a hot-dog bun with some of the onions. It was completely tasteless and bland.

First off, I'll never waste a brat by cooking it that way again.
Second, why was it so much better plain? (no condiments; just a brat & a bun)
Third, what did I do wrong? ( aka dazzle me with your brats-pertise and recipes)
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Old 09-17-2019, 06:35 PM
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1. You used Bud for something beyond weed-killing.

2. The beer bath is for typically a lot longer than 5-6 minutes. Any time I've done a batch for a group they usually sit in the simmer a good 30 minutes, at least.

3. I usually double-grill the brats as well. Get them nicely browned, dump in the bath, back on the grill for finish when served. I think you didn't get the flavor you wanted because you basically just boiled the brat rather than grill it.

4. Where are the peppers? I always like peppers with the onions myself.

Keep in mind that I'm a Californian doing this at a campground, not some weird Northern ice troll cooking in the snow before a feetball match.

Last edited by silenus; 09-17-2019 at 06:36 PM.
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Old 09-17-2019, 06:52 PM
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The taste buds like what the taste buds like. Cook them the way you like them. Recipe be damned.
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Old 09-17-2019, 07:20 PM
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No brown mustard? No sauerkraut? That's what you did wrong!
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Old 09-17-2019, 07:39 PM
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For, say, five brats (a normal pack of raw brats), I cut a white onion into wedges, throw that and one lagerish beer (Bud, Modelo, Corona, etc) with the brats, top off with tap water so the brats/onions are well covered, then simmer the whole mess for at least 30 minutes. Do NOT let it get to a boil or the casings will burst.

After that, remove the brats from the beer-water and grill until seared. Serve on toasted buns with rinsed sauerkraut and your preferred mustard.

The beer & onions lend a sweet flavor to brats done this way, and at least for me they taste much better than a plain, grilled brat.
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Old 09-17-2019, 07:47 PM
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Beer brats definitely need more than 5 or 6 minutes soaking in the beer. I've known people who simmer them in crock pot for an hour or two.

Last edited by kitap; 09-17-2019 at 07:49 PM.
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Old 09-17-2019, 07:51 PM
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The beer is a holding pattern, 45 minutes or so average. Dumping some of The sauerkraut in the beer, then draining well before dressing increases the beeriness of the brat. Brats from a good butcher are the biggest step to improvement.
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Old 09-17-2019, 07:51 PM
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Honestly, I've never seen the appeal of it. The only reason to do so is to cook a large quantity and have a holding area for them while you wait to serve. And, yes, I've had them in Wisconsin, I've had them at tailgates, I've had them held for an hour. The longer they're held, the shittier they are to me. All that brat flavor just goes into the braising liquid. You're just basically making beer brat soup.

Every brat I've ever had always tastes better just freshly grilled, none of this beer nonsense going on. Otherwise, it just dilutes the flavor, just like when you cook a broth or a stock how the meat loses its flavor and it all goes int the liquid.
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Old 09-17-2019, 07:55 PM
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Ok... so it's less boiling the brats & more long-term marinating at the lowest heat setting? Ignore where it says 'the cheaper the beer, the better"? Peppers make the dish as well as onions.

The recipe did say that after you brown them to put them back into the boiled beer onion (pepper) solution until just before serving (and I did that). Also, I admit my outside grill is not reliable... so I cook indoors. Browning in a skillet? No one said to do that (but it kept the juices in nicely and gosh darn was it flavorful!).

I do have a circular pan with an insert rack that I could use to brown it in an oven. God I hate cleaning that thing... but it's next up at bat.

.
Truth be told, I want to get my skills 'down' so that the next time I visit my brother, I can cook brats with confidence and put out a big tray of them for the guys while we're watching the game & smoking cigars. I mean, I've done the Youtube 'baconbomb' (it's very good) and chicken kabobs with peanut sauce (also very good) in the past & it's getting so as when I visit that the guys expect me to pull a rabbit out of a hat. I'm just hoping this can be the next rabbit.


PS- Guldens brown, I get. How the heck do you make sauerkraut?
< looks up recipe >
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Old 09-17-2019, 08:05 PM
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Sauerkraut is okay for Clevelanders and other folks whose taste buds have been destroyed by overindulgence in Polska kielbasa. For the best double-brat experience, put two on a bakery roll with brown mustard, sliced sweet onion, and garlic dill pickle sliced lengthwise into thin strips.

This is the way it’s done in Sheboygan, the Bratwurst Capital of America.

My fave place in Sheboygan also bisects the sausage lengthwise before grilling, which gives the meat a hamburger-ish shape and makes a less sloppy sandwich...the brats are less likely to slide out and onto your lap.
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Old 09-17-2019, 08:06 PM
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Be careful...if you order a double-brat with “everything” in Sheboygan, you MIGHT also get ketchup. Which ruins the entire thing.
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Old 09-17-2019, 08:12 PM
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Sauerkraut recipe: Go to the store and buy a jar or plastic bag of sauerkraut. Heat it up. (NO cans! Canned sauerkraut tastes like the can!). If you have a good German or East European deli or meat store nearby, you can buy it straight from the barrel.

GOOD sauerkraut, however: Fry a couple pieces of bacon in the pot. Remove and reserve. Sauté a sliced onion in the bacon fat. Add kraut and cheap beer to just cover. Add a tsp or two of caraway seed, a bay leaf, a tblsp of brown sugar (optional. I never do), and a small potato, grated (thickener). Add reserved bacon, crumbled. Simmer for hours and hours and hours, making sure it doesn’t get too dry. It’s fine after an hour or so, but the longer it sits the better it gets.
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Last edited by Ukulele Ike; 09-17-2019 at 08:13 PM.
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Old 09-17-2019, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Mundane Super Hero View Post
Ok... so it's less boiling the brats & more long-term marinating at the lowest heat setting? Ignore where it says 'the cheaper the beer, the better"? Peppers make the dish as well as onions.
Cheap beer is fine, and I've never used peppers (honestly beer-soaked bell peppers sound gross to me), and I don't think you get any benefit after 30 minutes simmering (not marinating, ew). You just want a very very slight boil in one corner of the pan; back it off the burner sideways a bit to heat one side if you can.

Quote:
Browning in a skillet? No one said to do that (but it kept the juices in nicely and gosh darn was it flavorful!). I do have a circular pan with an insert rack that I could use to brown it in an oven.
You can totally sear in a pan. Grab a cast iron, throw in oil until smoking, sear away. Use tongs to roll the sausages as best you can to sear as much of it as you can, but brats tend to end up curved so you'll get basically a good sear on each side.

I've used my creme brulee torch to sear brats, which works pretty well but the casings tend to ablate under the heat.

Quote:
How the heck do you make sauerkraut?
I never have, I just buy a jar. For national brands, Nathan's is pretty good. Basically you must absolutely rinse the kraut to get the brine off (would you drink pickle juice? Well, I wouldn't at least.). You can nuke it a little to raise the temperature, but cold kraut is fine on a nice hot brat.
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Old 09-17-2019, 08:25 PM
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My, my, lookit all the CALIFORNIANS in this thread. I’d sooner trust a down-east Yankee on how to make jambalaya as a California on sausages. (Joke, sorry, but cold kraut out of a jar on hot sausage makes my bones quiver)

I agree on peppers, though. Sautéed red/green peppers with onions (and a dash of oregano) on an Italian sausage sandwich are a mighty fine thing, but they have no place on bratwurst.
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Old 09-17-2019, 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Ukulele Ike View Post
My, my, lookit all the CALIFORNIANS in this thread. I’d sooner trust a down-east Yankee on how to make jambalaya as a California on sausages. (Joke, sorry, but cold kraut out of a jar on hot sausage makes my bones quiver)
I grew up near Chicago, an area rich with German blood, as am I and my surname (seven letters with a single vowel, fer chrissakes). And cold (rinsed, dammit!) kraut warms up just fine on a freshly seared brat.

Last edited by squeegee; 09-17-2019 at 08:44 PM.
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Old 09-17-2019, 08:53 PM
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To be fair, though, if I were serving kraut as it's own thing I'd get more creative than rinsed jar-kraut. But we're talking a sandwich topping here.
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Old 09-17-2019, 10:00 PM
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First off... may I please take a moment to thank every single person who posted? You didn't have to and it was All helpful. So... Thank You!

Next, the kraut I'm going to do as a side dish in a bowl with its own spoon. People are going to put on what they like (America... go figure).
The same with the onions/peppers. It's a personal taste thing. I will make sure that the darkest brown mustard that guldens makes is on the table.... but the tray is just going to have brats in split rolls plain.
My brother does have a grill so 1/2 to 3/4 of the brats will get grilled... but I'm still going to put a few pan seared ones out there and give people a choice.

I will say this: brats are filling. Its one-and-done for me... but when they taste great the hardest part is not nodding off afterward. Of course this is just the beginning or football season... so, what's after this for the following month? Cuban sandwiches?
I know... I know... one thing at a time...
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Old 09-17-2019, 10:18 PM
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I'd love a Cuban sammich thread. There's a place near me that does them right with good pork loin and spicy pickles. Wow, I don't think I could ever replicate that at home.
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Old 09-17-2019, 11:00 PM
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Heh, a Texan's (hey, we had our share of German immigrants) take on it:

Soak them in beer for awhile if you want them sweet. Get a malty beer, Negro Modelo or Shiner Bock work better than light lagers.

Grill them, and grill the peppers and onions in foil with a bit of beer in them. I prefer an outside grill, but doing the equivalent in the house is fine. Put it on a good roll, and top with spicy brown mustard.

But then again, I'll put grilled jalapenos on them, so take that for what it's worth.

Last edited by scabpicker; 09-17-2019 at 11:01 PM.
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Old 09-17-2019, 11:11 PM
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We recently bought an air fryer which nicely browns brats & fries at the same time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mundane Super Hero View Post
The other day I bought a pack of Beer Brats.
Wait, what sort of Beer Brats doesn't already have beer in 'em?
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Old 09-17-2019, 11:15 PM
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Okay, I'm a native Wisconsinite (Wisconsonian? Sconnie? Ummm, guy from Mi'waukee!) who spent hundreds of hours watching his dad make brats "the proper way", and it's how i do mine: Boil in beer with onions, then brown on the grill.

Well, this thread made me realize... we're all idiots. The good lord has blessed us with the perfect meat, and we're diluting it. Losing the precious fat 'n' flavor before it ever gets near a grill. Pulykamel was right, upthread: "All that brat flavor just goes into the braising liquid. You're just basically making beer brat soup."

Next cookout, here's what I'm going to do... Step One, grill brats. Step Two, eat brats.

That way, I'll keep all the fat I can in the brat, and get that nice Maillard-Reaction-Crispiness on the outside. Now, I do need to come up with a rationale for the big metal pot on the stove, full of cheap beer and onions. Because it makes the house smell SO great. Wife and kids walk in the door and inhale. "Mmmm, brats tonight!"

Ooh, I'll put the brats in the beer after they're grilled, so people will be scooping up onions and brats with the tongs.
Excuse me, i have to go buy some Johnsonville Brats and start the grill in the middle of the night...

Last edited by digs; 09-17-2019 at 11:17 PM.
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Old 09-18-2019, 10:03 AM
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Sauerkraut recipe: Go to the store and buy a jar or plastic bag of sauerkraut. Heat it up. (NO cans! Canned sauerkraut tastes like the can!). If you have a good German or East European deli or meat store nearby, you can buy it straight from the barrel.
America's Test Kitchen disagrees. They say sauerkraut in bags requires preservatives which change the taste. Canned and jarred don't.
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Old 09-18-2019, 10:05 AM
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I once had a Milwaukee native neighbor who insisted you grill the bratwurst FIRST, and then keep it hot in the beer/onion bath and let guests fish out their own.

Personally, I just grill ‘em, ten minutes to a side on a medium grill. Or five on a side if I split them. And I’d rather use fresh onion (and pickle) than the stuff that’s been simmering in beer. The slight crunch is part of the experience.

Scabpicker: Due to the big pockets of German and Czech immigrants, Texas opinion on Central European cookery should always be respected. Cheryl & Bill Jamieson’s excellent TEXAS HOME COOKING includes several such dishes, and is the source of my own method for chicken and dumplings...
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Old 09-18-2019, 10:06 AM
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America's Test Kitchen disagrees. They say sauerkraut in bags requires preservatives which change the taste. Canned and jarred don't.
Okay, then go for the jars. I maintain canned sauerkraut is awful.
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Old 09-18-2019, 10:18 AM
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Be careful...if you order a double-brat with “everything” in Sheboygan, you MIGHT also get ketchup. Which ruins the entire thing.
Ketchup's ok on an Oostburger, though. That's a burger with a brat on it, contained by a Sheboygan hard roll.
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Old 09-18-2019, 10:20 AM
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I once had a Milwaukee native neighbor who insisted you grill the bratwurst FIRST, and then keep it hot in the beer/onion bath and let guests fish out their own.
There's several different ways, depending on the Wisconsonian you ask. Here's a cached version of a web page which explains it:

Quote:

OK, let's get down to techniques for preparing bratwurst the Wisconsin way. Actually, there is more than one way to do it, depending on personal preference and/or which part of the state you live in.
Version 1, Grilled Brats with Savory Beer Sauce, is my favorite. It's a 3 step recipe, first simmered in a beer and onion marinade, then grilled, and held in a savory sauce.

Version 2 is the Sheboygan Purist method. The purists say that beer is for drinking, not for cooking brats.

Version 3 is the classic "Beer Brats" recipe, with the brats grilled over charcoal and then held in "batter"
Version 3 is the one you're talking about. Version 2 is the one that I advocate.

The is also a "Version 4" mentioned which is alternating the grill and bath until they're fully cooked through, but it's labeled as the persnickety technique, and I don't think it's as widely known.
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Old 09-18-2019, 10:30 AM
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I’m with ya on Version 2.

Fun link; thank you!
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Last edited by Ukulele Ike; 09-18-2019 at 10:32 AM.
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Old 09-18-2019, 11:18 AM
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Heh, a Texan's (hey, we had our share of German immigrants) take on it:

Soak them in beer for awhile if you want them sweet. Get a malty beer, Negro Modelo or Shiner Bock work better than light lagers.

Grill them, and grill the peppers and onions in foil with a bit of beer in them. I prefer an outside grill, but doing the equivalent in the house is fine. Put it on a good roll, and top with spicy brown mustard.

But then again, I'll put grilled jalapenos on them, so take that for what it's worth.
As much as I like brats, in general, I still prefer the smoked sausage you get at barbecue joints. (descendant of some of those Texas Germans- the ones who stayed in Galveston rather than immigrating to Central Texas).

I agree with those who think that the beer leaches the flavor out of the brat; I read that cooking sausages sous-vide might actually be the best way to cook them- you don't overcook them, and you don't lose much moisture either, as the stretch on the grill is just to brown/crisp the outside.

Last edited by bump; 09-18-2019 at 11:18 AM.
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Old 09-18-2019, 12:30 PM
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I read that cooking sausages sous-vide might actually be the best way to cook them- you don't overcook them, and you don't lose much moisture either, as the stretch on the grill is just to brown/crisp the outside.
The grill adds a ton of flavor, though, with its browning of the sausage.

Also, in the Sheboygan area, grilling is considered High Art, and a man's standing in the neighborhood can depend on his skill in grilling and browning a brat with minimal leakage of the juices. My uncle Tom was a master of that.

And I agree that the sentiment expressed earlier is applicable in Sheboygan County;
for there, beer is for drinking, not cooking.

Though the abstemious Calvinist Hollanders in the southern part of the county may try to sneak some forbidden beer into their system via beer soaked brats. Most of them now just go someplace outside their small towns to drink.
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Old 09-19-2019, 12:53 AM
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I once had a Milwaukee native neighbor who insisted you grill the bratwurst FIRST, and then keep it hot in the beer/onion bath and let guests fish out their own.

Personally, I just grill ‘em, ten minutes to a side on a medium grill. Or five on a side if I split them. And I’d rather use fresh onion (and pickle) than the stuff that’s been simmering in beer. The slight crunch is part of the experience.

Scabpicker: Due to the big pockets of German and Czech immigrants, Texas opinion on Central European cookery should always be respected. Cheryl & Bill Jamieson’s excellent TEXAS HOME COOKING includes several such dishes, and is the source of my own method for chicken and dumplings...

Thankya, I'll try to get my hands on a copy, but I'll try to avoid the chicken and dumplings. I've never gotten over the trauma of being served them from a can. My wife likes them, but she's not going to make a giant starch bomb if she's the only one that's going to eat them.

And oh yeah, fresh onions are almost necessary. Fresh jalapenos are better than canned, too.

Hmm, maybe a squirt of Halal Guy's hot sauce on it...no, at that point it just becomes a capsaicin transfer device. Scratch that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bump View Post
As much as I like brats, in general, I still prefer the smoked sausage you get at barbecue joints. (descendant of some of those Texas Germans- the ones who stayed in Galveston rather than immigrating to Central Texas).

I agree with those who think that the beer leaches the flavor out of the brat; I read that cooking sausages sous-vide might actually be the best way to cook them- you don't overcook them, and you don't lose much moisture either, as the stretch on the grill is just to brown/crisp the outside.
When it comes to sausages in Texas barbecue joints, that's a broad subject. I've had heavenly sausages, and I've had ones that make me wish I'd ordered anything else. A brat is a narrow target, in comparison.

And yeah, I don't recommend cooking them in the beer. If you want them really sweet, go nuts and baste them with the beer while cooking under lower heat on a grill or pan. I've done similar things while smoking stuff (putting beer, wine, champagne or cider in a pan in the heat flow works when smoking, too, but won't really transfer sugars), and always liked the results.
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Old 09-20-2019, 11:30 AM
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Scabpicker: Due to the big pockets of German and Czech immigrants, Texas opinion on Central European cookery should always be respected. Cheryl & Bill Jamieson’s excellent TEXAS HOME COOKING includes several such dishes, and is the source of my own method for chicken and dumplings...
Man, we actually have (for the moment, only oldsters speak it anymore) our own dialect of German. Can't say that for the upper Midwest.

Speaking of books... Robb Walsh's "Texas Eats - Heritage Cookbook" is terrific. It's as much history book as cookbook, and goes into the Central European roots of Texas food, as well as other influences on the state's food, such as the post-war oil boom fine dining stuff happening in Houston and Dallas.
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Old 09-20-2019, 03:11 PM
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Every brat I've ever had always tastes better just freshly grilled, none of this beer nonsense going on..
I mostly agree (as a Chicagoan who's spent a lot of time in northern Wisconsin and eaten more than my share of brats).

The boil-in-beer method is a decent tailgate and party food, and I wouldn't be surprised if it DID improve the flavor of low-quality brats. And maybe that used to be a valuable trick. But it's so easy to buy really good sausages these days, with any supermarket selling some decent ones and nearly any butcher selling good to excellent ones.

That said, you CAN make a good version of a beer brat by simmering your peppers and onions in beer. Use just enough to cover, simmer and slow so the beer reduces down, and use a flavorful but not too bitter beer.
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Old 09-20-2019, 10:34 PM
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I once had a Milwaukee native neighbor who insisted you grill the bratwurst FIRST, and then keep it hot in the beer/onion bath and let guests fish out their own.
That's the way I've always done it. Never had any instructions on that, just assumed that's the way it's done.
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Old 09-21-2019, 08:35 AM
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I have never cooked brats in beer. I always grill them over charcoal and serve them up with a fresh Italian roll with Mancini Tangy Peppers n Sauce

If I have my off set smoker running, I put brats on for an hour or so and smoke them with oak and hickory. http://i.imgur.com/D9RHp1a.jpg
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Old 09-21-2019, 09:45 AM
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If I have my off set smoker running, I put brats on for an hour or so and smoke them with oak and hickory. http://i.imgur.com/D9RHp1a.jpg
I was just going to reply that some of the best brats I've had I made just a few weeks ago. I smoked them at 180 for about an hour over Apple and Hickory and then crisped them up briefly over a very hot grill.

Planning to smoke some salmon this weekend so may just have to add a few brats to the plan.

Beer went into my mouth for that part of the equation.
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Old 09-21-2019, 05:48 PM
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Whenever I run my smoker for ribs, pork butt or brisket, I always throw a few brats or Italian sausages on for lunch.
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Last edited by longhair75; 09-21-2019 at 05:49 PM. Reason: lack of spell checking before hitting the post button
  #37  
Old 09-21-2019, 07:06 PM
carrps is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Los Angeles
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ukulele Ike View Post
Sauerkraut recipe: Go to the store and buy a jar or plastic bag of sauerkraut. Heat it up. (NO cans! Canned sauerkraut tastes like the can!). If you have a good German or East European deli or meat store nearby, you can buy it straight from the barrel.

GOOD sauerkraut, however: Fry a couple pieces of bacon in the pot. Remove and reserve. Sauté a sliced onion in the bacon fat. Add kraut and cheap beer to just cover. Add a tsp or two of caraway seed, a bay leaf, a tblsp of brown sugar (optional. I never do), and a small potato, grated (thickener). Add reserved bacon, crumbled. Simmer for hours and hours and hours, making sure it doesn’t get too dry. It’s fine after an hour or so, but the longer it sits the better it gets.
When I make Reubens I doctor my (canned) sauerkraut with a grainy, spicy mustard and a bit of brown sugar. It doesn't taste sweet at all -- the sugar just rounds out the flavors and creates a real depth of flavor. Yum!
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