People from Wisconsin know the taste of great beer bratwurst, and it’s time the rest of the country gets to love them too. It’s not hard, but there are a few tricks to grilling the perfect beer bratwurst.
Choose the Right Bratwurst
There are many different types and brands of bratwurst. Here we’ll differentiate on two bases: 1) cooked or uncooked, and 2) natural or man-made casings.
Uncooked brats will take longer to cook at home, naturally. However, they’ll have a richer flavor since they’ve remained fresh longer, and they’ll integrate the beer flavor better than cooked brats. Cooked brats will still taste good and can be a time-saving convenience.
Natural casings are made of intestines and are the best for cooking in beer, but they cost a little more. The best brats, therefore, are uncooked and have natural casings. The quickest and cheapest brats are pre-cooked and have man-made casings.
Adding Beer and Grilling Brats
Both types of brats make good beer brats, but the steps taken are different. When using uncooked brats with natural casings, simmer them in a pan of beer (2 cans), chopped onion and a quarter cup of butter. The intestines breathe in the beer on their own, or you can pierce them lightly to absorb more beer flavor and release more grease. Keep the pot just below the boiling point at a gentle simmer for 20 to 45 minutes. Never boil! This will burst the casing, losing flavor into the beer. They will change from a pinkish color to light brown as they finish cooking.
You need to be sure and pierce the man-made casings, however. They don’t breathe so won’t take on the beer flavor any other way. Use a fork to pierce them several times each before dropping in the beer mixture described above. They needn’t be cooked at all, but just marinated. If you do cook them, be sure to keep the temperature way down and remove from heat after 10 to 20 minutes.
Use tongs to place the brats on the pre-heated grill. Forks will leak the flavor out. Uncooked brats take about 20 minutes on a hot grill, while the pre-cooked type will only take a few minutes. Turn them regularly, aiming for a smoky flavor with nice grill stripes.
Serving Beer Bratwurst
There are a couple schools of thought on final steps. The easiest is to just take them off the grill and put them on the correct bun. Of course you need a good bratwurst bun or a good hard roll. A sub roll makes a decent substitute. Those grocery store hot dog buns just won’t fill the bill.
A good dark mustard and chopped onions are traditional toppings. Special bratwurst mustard can be found in Wisconsin, and maybe other bratwurst-loving parts of the country. If you like sauerkraut, that’s also great on a beer brat.
Some people like to take them off the grill and place them in a pan of beer to self baste for a few minutes before eating. This isn’t necessary, but they say it adds flavor. It’s helpful to do with a large amount of brats, so they remain hot and juicy as everyone finally gets to the table. One thing though, don’t use that same beer mixture that you originally simmered the brats in. Make up a new batch.
It’s time for the country to join the grilled bratwurst craze! It’s easy and delicious. Try it this weekend for the big game.