How do you cook bratwursts?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by french fries, Jan 16, 2013.

  1. french fries

    french fries

    Messages:
    5,272
    Likes Received:
    344
    Exp:
    At home cook
    To cook bratwursts (other than grilling them) I typically heat a pan on medium-low heat, film it with a bit of oil, add the sausages and turn them, flip them, force them to stay down, until they're beautifully golden on every side possible (which typically means no more than about 35-40% of the sausage skin). The process lasts a good 30mn. 

    I'm happy with the results but it takes a while, and I'm wondering if maybe I'm missing something obvious - how do you do it? 
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2013
  2. michaelga

    michaelga

    Messages:
    1,237
    Likes Received:
    64
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    One way to 'speed' things up without making a mess or destroying them is to gently poach them first.  

    Then crisp them up in what ever fashion you like. 

    Quite often I'll poach them in something that will accentuate the flavours of the final dish.  

    ie. beer, sourkraut juice and stock; or

    chicken / light pork stock  with fresh herbs; or

    white wine with aromatics; or

    thin cabbage and fennel soup (leftover white borscht); or

    apple juice cider with bits of apple and dried fruit.

    The varieties are endless.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2013
  3. french fries

    french fries

    Messages:
    5,272
    Likes Received:
    344
    Exp:
    At home cook
    Great, excellent idea, I'll keep that in mind - thanks for sharing!
     
  4. ed buchanan

    ed buchanan

    Messages:
    3,355
    Likes Received:
    44
    Exp:
    Culinary Instructor
    I start them in a fry pan with water,or beer  the  or beer sought of steams them so as they cook all the way thru, I keep turning and golden browning them > as I am browning I cover with a ligh t pie pan to keep heat in. Any wurst or sausage will cook on outside before inside.
     
  5. recky

    recky

    Messages:
    265
    Likes Received:
    28
    Exp:
    Owner/Operator
    I prick them all around with a fork and fry them on a fairly low heat so that they release some of their fat/juice, especially if I serve them with some kind of sauce (onion marmelade - great!). Keep frying until brown (ca. 10-15 min), making sure they don't burn.

    When I don't need any juices for a sauce I fry them over medium-high heat until brown and finish off in the oven.

    In either case, ensure they don't dry out by overcooking. The inside should be a faint pink.
     
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2013
  6. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,550
    Likes Received:
    203
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Nothing original with my methods. 

    1.  Make a quick stock on the boil with beer, onions, a pinch of brown sugar, a little bit of hot mustard.  When it has some taste, season it with salt and pepper.  Reduce the heat to a bare simmer.  Pierce the brats (duh!).  Poach the brats (and/or any type of sausage which will hold together).  Finally, brown the brats in a pan.

    FWIW, I prep sausage for the gill in the same way.  Speaking of the grill, if you're doing a lot of sausage, as for a party, the  stock may be repurposed as a sausage hot tub and used to keep the brats hot. 

    Alternatively, make a stock with something other than beer and onions.  Wine works well.  Any kind of stock, even a light court buillon is preferable to plain water. 

    2.  This one is a little simpler, a little quicker, and works especially well for frozen sausage.  Hey!  Frozen happens especially if you make your own.  Pierce the sausage as best you can.  Put them in a COLD pan with a little bit of water - no more than a 1/4", cover the pan and bring the fire up to medium/low.  Three things will happen at the same time:  The water will be more or less completely absorbed and replaced with sausage drippings; the sausage will be completely defrosted; and the skin will have just barely begun to brown.  Remove the cover, increase the heat and finish browning as usual in the drippings. 

    BDL
     
  7. chicagoterry

    chicagoterry

    Messages:
    963
    Likes Received:
    85
    Exp:
    Home Cook
    Poached in beer then grilled ...yum! 

    I wait all winter for the first one of the season.
     
  8. chefross

    chefross

    Messages:
    2,781
    Likes Received:
    418
    Exp:
    Former Chef
    Growing up in Wisconsin was the place to experience the brat. We have Sheboygan brats. They are famous there and surrounding areas.

    When I was in college, I had an electric skillet in my dorm room.

    I'd saute some onions in bacon fat until the were soft, then add the brats.

    Olympia beer from out west was big then, so I used that to simmer the brats in.

    After that I finished them out on a charcoal grill.  Wow....what a flavor they had.
     
  9. maryb

    maryb

    Messages:
    2,533
    Likes Received:
    194
    Exp:
    Semi pro/retired now
    Outside: Grill until browned then in to a pan of beer and sauerkraut to simmer.

    Inside: Brown well under the broiler the into a pan of beer and sauerkraut to simmer.

    Can add onion to the pan also.
     
  10. recky

    recky

    Messages:
    265
    Likes Received:
    28
    Exp:
    Owner/Operator
    Just wondering: are bratwursts stateside so insipid that you have to go to great lengths to make them edible? What's wrong with simply frying them? Here in Germany (where they originate from) and most of Europe that's pretty much all we do. I'm not being smug, just wondering what all this poaching in beer, wine etc. is about.
     
     
  11. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,642
    Likes Received:
    557
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    Depends on the regional variation of bratwurst. Nuernberg and Coburg have a small thin brat style, usually grilled.  Muenchen has it's thick poached Weisswurst. I had a long thin spicy one in Ludwigsburg unlike anything else I ever had in my 16 months in Germany.

    Most of the US bratwurst are big and thick, about 1/4 pound each and  5-6 inches long. They benefit from a little assistance to get them cooked all the way through.

    I'd love to find a source going into the flavors, recipes and history of the regional variations but I've yet to find one.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
  12. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,550
    Likes Received:
    203
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Posted by Recky  
    We call it "cooking."

    BDL
     
  13. michaelga

    michaelga

    Messages:
    1,237
    Likes Received:
    64
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    Same reason people make terriyaki striploins, or chilpotle rubbed rib eyes, or herb butter basted porter houses.

    The original post also mentioned the (longish) time that was required.  By poaching you can cut that time down considerably while not detracting from the flavour.
     
  14. french fries

    french fries

    Messages:
    5,272
    Likes Received:
    344
    Exp:
    At home cook
    Of course! Why did I not think of that. Great idea, thanks Mary. 

    Re: piercing the sausage... why do some recommend piercing the sausage? IMO that makes all the fat and meat juices escape, leaving you with a dry sausage. I never pierce sausages - for the same reason I wouldn't stab a steak with a knife before cooking it...
     
  15. michaelga

    michaelga

    Messages:
    1,237
    Likes Received:
    64
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    Some people pierce the sausage to keep them from exploding or splitting.  

    If you keep the temp low while grilling or pan frying and turn very frequently you won't have an issue.   

    Same goes with poaching first, keep the temp low and things won't start to get out of hand.  Once fully cooked you're just quickly browning the outsides so it's not an issue.

    Recky will probably have a heart-attack but sometimes I poach them and then carefully remove the casings before browning and then slicing for a particular plating.

    (Once the protein is set you won't have any significant loss of fat/moisture)

    (just funning with ya Recky!)

    PS - fwiw stabbing a steak isn't such a no-no due to the construction of the muscle tissues.  Here is a good article that explains it (sausages are ground up so no muscle structure)  http://www.seriouseats.com/2012/05/how-to-grill-a-steak-guide-food-lab.html     TIP #9   about 1/3 the way down the page.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
  16. recky

    recky

    Messages:
    265
    Likes Received:
    28
    Exp:
    Owner/Operator
    Just recovering from a mild heart attack... ;-)

    Squeezing nuggets out of bratwurst casings and browning them isn't totally unheard of round here, actually. I'm not sure, it might be a southern German/Austrian/No. Italian thing.
     
  17. mike9

    mike9

    Messages:
    2,526
    Likes Received:
    467
    Exp:
    Former Chef
    I usually poach in a little stock and/or beer to coax some fat out - when that evaporates they brown in their own juices. 

    Once a year my local Aldi gets these finger size Brats from Germany.  I stock up on them and we do them on marshmallow forks over a fire - they're a big hit. 
     
  18. brianshaw

    brianshaw

    Messages:
    3,230
    Likes Received:
    388
    Exp:
    Former Chef
    That's my way.  I don't like piercing them; the best part is when the juices dribble down the chin onthe first bite.  For good brats I just poach in water.  No need for flavor enhancement.  For bad brats I flavor the water and feed them to the dogs.  :)
     
  19. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,550
    Likes Received:
    203
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Piercing sausage casings with small pricks before cooking the sausage does not make sausage dry, or even appreciably drier.  Juices will still dribble down your chin. 

    Furthermore, unless your sausage casings are sealed at both ends of the sausage they're going to lose some of fat as it becomes liquid anyway as the ends open -- which they frequently do when the pressure builds up.  What piercing does is prevent steam pressure from building up and bursting the casing.  A pierced sausage doesn't leak much fat, it "leaks" steam.  On the other hand, a burst casing -- which happens sometimes no matter how careful you are -- not only makes for an ugly sausage but a dry one as well.  

    The reason to poach in some sort of flavored solution, beer and onions, e.g., as opposed to poaching in water is -- obviously -- to add flavor instead of subtracting it.  Just as I can't imagine anyone being too restrictive to grill a sausage over wood or charcoal instead of insisting that a cast iron pan is the ONE TRUE method, I'm having difficulty with the idea that there are a great number of sausage eaters too pure to use a poaching liquid with some taste.  

    Piercing and poaching in something which tastes good:  Neither thing is mandatory.  Do whatever works.  Knock yourselves out.  Make yourselves happy.  But guys... piercing and poaching are basic and ubiquitous techniques of charcuterie -- try not to be too scandalized.  Unclutch those pearls.

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
  20. brianshaw

    brianshaw

    Messages:
    3,230
    Likes Received:
    388
    Exp:
    Former Chef
    Unclutch those pearls -- huh?  That is quite an odd response to the postings since nobody is professing supreme knowledge and a universally-accepted proper way of cooking a brat.  There are many different techniques and I think we are sharing our personal techniques and preferences.  Am I missing something here?
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2013