Grilling Bratwurst — Everything You Need to Know
Add a little German accent to your next barbecue by grilling up some juicy bratwurst sausages alongside your more traditional hot dogs and hamburgers. Bratwurst, also known affectionately as brats, can be found at most grocery stores in either the deli case or already packaged in the meat department. If you’ve never had one, bratwurst are hearty sausages made from veal, pork or beef. They are well seasoned, but are not overly spicy. Don’t be surprised if the meaty, juicy bratwurst turns out to be more popular than the smaller hot dogs.
To serve brats at your own home or at your next tailgate, your first task will be picking out the perfect bratwurst for your grill. If you are lucky, your local grocery store will offer fresh brats in the deli case. If not, most stores carry different varieties of pre-packaged brats, including brats made with beer or filled with cheddar cheese.
If you have bought fresh bratwurst, pierce the skin several times, so that they won’t burst in cooking and squirt hot juices at you. There are two different schools of thought on the best way to cook fresh bratwurst. Some people prefer to grill their brats from start to finish, while others prefer to par-boil or simmer them in liquid first and then grill them.
If you prefer not to par-boil or simmer your links first, simply place your bratwurst on a pre-heated grill. Cook the brats over low heat for approximately 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are browned on the outside and cooked all the way through.
Many people prefer to par-boil or simmer their brats in beer before grilling them. Again, there are different schools of thoughts on the best method to do this. Some people simply pour two to three beers in a saucepan and boil the brats in the alcohol. Other people believe you should bring the beer to a boil, but then turn down the heat before adding the brats and slowly simmer the brats for about six to eight minutes. There are some cooks who recommend adding the beer to a skillet and simmering the brats in it for approximately ten minutes. Some people like to add onions to the beer for added flavor. Still others prefer not to use any beer and will pre-cook the brats in plain water.
Once you have pre-cooked the links, place the brats on a pre-heated grill. Cook the links over low heat for about ten minutes, turning them occasionally. The brats are done when both sides are browned and the links are cooked all the way through.
If you have bought the prepackaged brats, many of these are already fully cooked and just need some gentle grilling over low heat to warm them through.
You can serve brats in a regular hot dog roll, but they are better on a hoagie roll. Most of the time, brats are served topped with a hearty golden mustard and with lots of sauerkraut. Take a tip from Wisconsin where brats are extremely popular and are often serve with grilled corn on the cob as a side. French fries or potato chips are also perfect accompaniments for the hearty brats.