beer-braised bratwurst

The latest post from Matt:

As two people who love watching shows about food, this can sometimes be dangerous. It will stir up different emotions and ideas. It will get us to thinking of how we should try something that we see or attempt a new cooking process. Sometimes the ideas or inspiration is wildly successful and sometimes…well…it is just better left bouncing around in my head. But that is part of cooking and the beauty of learning something you are passionate about. The successes are fantastic highs and you feel like you should be on the next season of Top Chef. While the failures seem to sting a little bit more. They sound good in theory and you worked out all the science in your head, but when you execute you end up with a kitchen full of smoke and a pot that is beyond repair. Why? All because you saw something on TV that created a spark. “Wow, I didn’t know you could do that with broccoli!” or “what if I melt butterscotch candies in a pot to create my own sauce for sweets.” The spark leads to a masterpiece or a pot that now needs a jackhammer to repair the most recent concoction. Welcome to our world!

On a recent episode of one of those traveling food shows, either Diners, Drive-ins and Dives or Man vs. Food, they were in beautiful Green Bay, Wisconsin showing off some lovely bratwurst. As a man who has fully embraced his German heritage, I have come to enjoy a good sausage or brat a whole lot more than I used to. This segment about bratwurst truly intrigued me, almost to a point that I was like a little kid right in front of the TV. While Rachel was slaving away doing something, I was fixed on the TV watching this. I immediately called her over to show the tricks they were employing. There it was…a beautiful beer bath that the chef would put the brat into. What a glorious site seeing this freshly grilled brat submerged into a beer hot tub then back on to the grill.

I realize this is nothing new in the culinary world. Things like this have been done for ages, but this was my first time of seeing this wonderful way to cook these brats and add a beer flavor to it.

It is actually quite simple to do but will take some patience. Here is the way it was shown on television and the way we prepared it:

1.       Take a normal bratwurst and put it on a hot grill. Quick note: We used kielbasas which is slightly different than a bratwurst. The casing is a little harder and more resistant to flavors getting in. Next time we do this, we will use a bratwurst since it is softer and easier for the beer to infuse its flavor.

2.       This is where it can get tricky, the show never told the cooking time or how long to cook it, so depending on your taste or preference, do what you think is best. Since this was my first time, I cooked it until it was almost done but not quite done. Make sure you get those beautiful grill marks on the sausage as well. the beer and char will go great together

3.       While the sausage is cooking, pour your beer into a pan or skillet that will be able to hold the number of brats you are cooking. We ended up having to use a sauté pan because a normal pot was too small. Also, this is very important, please don’t use Miller Lite or Coors Lite or Bud Light. Use a nice beer, preferably a craft beer. Obviously it is going to be your braising liquid so you won’t be drinking it but hopefully you will be able to taste the beer flavor in the sausage.

4.       The beer bath should be at or around 160 degrees. Since we don’t have a thermometer to measure, we just put the beer on simmer and let it get hot. You don’t want it to boil, just have a nice warm pool for your sausages to lounge around in.

5.       Once the sausages/bratwurst is nearly done, pull the sausage out and put it into the beer. Let it sit in there for 10-15 minutes.  We did 10 because we are impatient, but if you can wait the extra 5 minutes, it would be better. Also, make sure all sides of the sausage get into the beer. I say this because we only used 1 bottle of beer in the skillet (its good beer, we didn’t want to waste it) and it covered the skillet to the half-way point so we had to keep rotating it.

6.       Once it has sat in there for the allotted time, put it back on the grill to lock in the beer flavor. It should only take a couple of minutes. Just make sure all sides get to touch the heat.

7.       Next, put the sausage on your favorite roll with some good mustard and enjoy. I also had sauerkraut with mine which added this extra dimension of taste.

The older I get, the more I realize the apple didn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to cooking. It is scary to see me follow the footsteps of my father in trying new and creative things. Things I never thought I would do or eat. Trying new recipes and trying to make a normal dish a master dish. Somehow these crazy ideas get in there and we just have to follow through and try it. If we fail we fail but at least we tried.

I also realize that no matter what kind of food I have in front of me, I like to try and doctor it somehow. Rachel likes to say I am in search of the perfect bite with every meal. She has also grown used to me taking half of our spice rack and fridge with me when we eat. She may have salt and pepper in front of her while I have different spices and a mixture of condiments (yet still we are the one-trip wonders). Secretly, I think I am wearing her down though because she is starting to doctor things more and more. It’s not that the normal way things taste is bad; it is just a need or an outlet to be creative or improve upon it. Or find that perfect bite.

I joke with Rachel that by the time we go back to Texas to visit, people aren’t going to recognize our normal eating habits since we will probably be doctoring up classics that we never used to. It will be either signs of growth…or…weirdness.

Continuing our journey of the ever changing palette.

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3 Comments

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  1. i had a good and bad experience this week Matt & Rachel. I tried to make the Rouladen I had at Schobels. I did use bratwurst instead of bacon. The good it was pretty good but needs tweaking, ha ha. The bad it takes a long time to roll the things up. That was made harder by a new guy at Granzins who cut the Rouladens to thin which made them tear easy. Love yall dad and mom

  2. I really love this blog thing!! You are so right, you would have never eaten some of these foods. I am so glad you are trying new foods, it is like a great adventure. The only thing missing is a picture of y’all.

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