Grilled Beer Bratwurst
Everyone has their own secret perfect bratwurst recipe. Not being from Wisconsin, I can’t tell you if this recipe is perfect or not. What I can tell you is this recipe has produced for me some very delicious bratwurst. I have heard people say the Secret to great bratwurst is to simmer them in beer first (Really? Gee no kidding?), or cook them slow or make sure the fire is the right temp.
In my experience, the secret is simply patience. How long to grill bratwurst depends on how you grill them. You can throw them straight on the grill which will take about 25-30 minutes or boil the brats in beer, wine or water for about 20 minutes. After boiling, then they are grilled for 4-6 minutes. Boiling them first (also called par-poaching) in beer first improves the flavor so dramatically its almost a sin just to throw them straight on the grill. Regardless, brats take a little while to cook thoroughly. If you rush, you could easily end up with a bratwurst that is burnt on the outside and not so done on the inside.
If not handled properly, the long cooking time often burst the brat’s thin skin letting all the glorious juices out, causing a dried up brat.
Due to the large German population, Wisconsin is known for their beer and bratwurst. Germans brought their bratwurst sausage recipes as they settled throughout the area in the 1800’s. Bratwurst is traditionally made from pork, although there are bratwurst that are all beef or other meats. In selecting which brand of brat to cook is a personal choice. Johnsonville is a popular national brand and is as good as any, unless you live around Wisconsin, where you can find many delicious alternatives.
Although gas grills are fine to use, bratwurst tastes the best when grilled over charcoal or wood. I have seen some fry bratwurst in a pan, but this reduces the taste to nothing more than a large breakfast sausage. Here’s how to grill perfect bratwurst
What To Grill
6 Good quality rolls (Semmel Rolls if you can find them)
1 whole onion
1 large Green pepper
12 ounces of beer
1 cup of water
2 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon salt
How To Grill It
If you have a gas grill, the sideburner is perfect for this.
Cut the onion in half and slice. Slice the green pepper into 1/4 inch wide strips. In a 2 quart saucepan, sauté the sliced onion and green pepper in 2 tablespoons of butter for three to four minutes.
Remove 1/2 of the sauteed onions and green peppers and place in a bowl covered with foil to keep warm. (You can use these on the brats later) Leave the remaining onion and peppers in the pan.
Next add 1 bottle or can of beer and 1 cup of water and bring to a low simmer. Never boil bratwurst –it will break open the skins. A low simmer is when there is steam rising off of the water and no bubbles are coming to the surface.
You can use any beer, but full flavored Mexican beers like Corona or Tecate work great.Light beer is not recommended.
Simmer the brats on low heat for 20 minutes and remove. (Discard the liquid and peppers). Take your simmered brats straight to the grill. Be careful not to break the skin. Grill on a low setting. the key here is low and slow. Brats can be cooked either directly over the fire or indirectly, where the fire is on one side of the grill and the food is grilled over the unlit portion. This allows the bratwurst to cook with little risk of burning from flare ups.
Grill the brats for 4-6 minutes total, turning often until brown. They are now ready to serve.
Use only tongs to turn. Using a fork or anything else that can poke holes in your brats will let all the good juices out and result in a dried out brat. Flare-ups from the dripping fat will cause the outside to burn as well.
Serve on good quality fresh baked rolls (not hot dog buns) and top with the onion and pepper mix that you sauteed, or with brown or deli-style mustard — or all of the above. If you like Sauerkraut on your brats, Use the fresh Sauerkraut from the refrigerated section of the supermarket. I like to use the Bavarian style with caraway seeds. Heat it in a pan with some course cracked black pepper.
Bratwurst and Beer with sauerkraut is one of my favorite grilled foods. It is fun to cook and so delicious.