Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Grilled "Hot Tub" Beer Brats

Grilled "Hot Tub" Beer Brats - Bratwurst sausage, braised on the grill in a hot tub of beer, onions and butter, then seared and returned to the tub. Serve on hard rolls, with mustard, onions and pickles.

Grilled "Hot Tub" Beer Brats

Now, yes, right off the bat before some of y'all insist on thinking I don't know, bratwurst ain't exactly a Deep South dish. I do realize that! Once upon a time, you would have been hard-pressed to even find a bratwurst sausage anywhere in The South to save your life. But now that they are everywhere, we Southerners sure do enjoy our share of them.

The first bratwurst I ever ate was in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. I fell in love with them and let me tell you the best ones surely have to be up there in that part of the country. So different from the typical Italian sausage we are used to, I was thrilled when one day Johnsonville brand bratwurst started showing up in the markets here years ago.


Although brats are widely available everywhere now, fortunately these days, you can easily order Wisconsin brats straight from Sheboygan for a more authentic experience too.

As far as prep goes, folks up in Wisconsin make them one of two ways generally, both of which involve a beer and onion hot tub. Some grill them, then let them finish in the hot tub, others cook them in the hot tub, then grill them, which is what I like to do. I think finishing them on the grill tastes better myself. The brat hot tub smells so incredibly good simmering on the grill too y'all!

I would suggest sticking with a light canned beer, nothing fancy, just a can of Miller Lite, Old Milwaukee, Busch, or something along that line is fine. You'll want two to three pint sized cans.

Don't get distracted away from the grill as brats can cause some pretty intense flare ups, so I suggest standing over them and keep a steady turn on them or they'll surely burst on you and can quickly burn too.

Traditionally, brats are served on semmel hard rolls widely available in places like Sheboygan. It's a German hard roll that is light and tender inside, but with a thin and crispy crust on the outside. If you want the authentic experience order them online along with those brats.

We don't have semmel rolls around these parts, so the best I can do is to use a small pistolette, po'boy roll that you can always find here, and they're sturdy enough to work. If you don't have those either, then just go for a harder roll than, say, those soft hoagie rolls or hot dog buns if you can.


Once you've got the right kind of bun, add a little mustard, preferably a grainy brown German mustard, some of the onions from the hot tub and dill pickles (the "MOP") and you've come pretty close to being on the right side of a true brat. Apparently, it's considered a mortal sin in Wisconsin to put ketchup on a brat, but hey, it's your kitchen, so you should dress them any way that you want to.


Any kind of potato salad is an excellent side for these, though my Deep South German Style Warm Potato Salad certainly makes sense, and, of course, a good, ice cold bottled beer.

Here's how to make them.

Preheat grill to high (400 degrees F). Place a 9 x 13 inch, deep disposal aluminum pan on top of a rimmed baking sheet and scatter half of the onion in.


Add bratwurst on top of the onion. There are two camps on whether or not to pierce the brats. I am on the "don't pierce the brats before cooking" camp.


Add remaining onions.


Scatter butter all around and sprinkle red pepper flakes, Creole or Cajun seasoning and black pepper on top. Toss in the smashed garlic.


Slowly pour beer all over the brats. I prefer to use a light, lager style beer, as anything heavier or darker tends to be overpowering and may produce a bitter taste that you won't enjoy. Can you make these without beer? Well, yes. These really are the best when made with beer though, but you may use more or less beer, all beer or no beer, replacing it with a low sodium chicken broth. I'm going to tell you right now, beer makes the best and it's my preference. If you use no beer and only chicken broth, I also recommend using a stronger yellow or red onion, rather than the Vidalias I use to add more flavor.


Transfer the aluminum pan from the baking sheet to the hot grill and cook with the lid down, for about 20 minutes. Using pot holders, carefully transfer the pan to the top shelf or push the pan off to the far side and grease grill with cooking oil.


Using tongs, transfer the brats to the grill over direct heat and cook, with the lid up, turning several times, for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until evenly browned, watching for flare ups.


Return brats to the hot tub as they finish.


Serve brats on hard rolls with a grainy brown mustard, pickles and some of the tender onions from the hot tub.




Recipe: Grilled "Hot Tub" Beer Brats

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 30 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients
  • 2 pounds fresh bratwurst sausage (about 8)
  • 2 large Vidalia onions, quartered and sliced (for about 6 cups sliced)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of cold butter, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste, optional
  • 1 teaspoon of Creole or Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama), or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, or to taste
  • 4 large toes of garlic, smashed
  • 2 to 3 pints of a pale lager or pilsner style beer
  • Pistolette mini po'boy rolls, or other hard roll such as semmels
Instructions

Preheat grill to high (400 degrees F). Place a 9 x 13 inch, deep disposal aluminum pan on top of a rimmed baking sheet and scatter half of the onion in. Add bratwurst on top of the onion and add remaining onions. Scatter butter all around and sprinkle red pepper flakes, Creole or Cajun seasoning and black pepper on top. Toss in the smashed garlic. Slowly pour beer all over the brats. Carefully transfer the aluminum pan from the baking sheet to the hot grill and cook with the lid down, for about 20 minutes.

Using pot holders, carefully transfer the pan to the top shelf or push the pan off to the far side and grease grill with cooking oil. Using tongs, transfer the brats to the grill over direct heat and cook, with the lid up, turning several times, for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until evenly browned, watching for flare ups. Return brats to the hot tub as they finish. Serve brats on hard rolls with a grainy brown mustard, pickles and some of the tender onions. Add a side of potato salad.

Cook's Notes: Don't pierce the brats before cooking. Use only a light, lager style beer, as anything heavier or darker tends to be overpowering and may produce a bitter taste. You may use more or less beer, all beer or no beer, although they really are the best when made with all beer. Just eliminate or adjust for the liquid with chicken broth as needed to cover the brats. If you use no beer and only chicken broth, I recommend using a stronger yellow onion and do be mindful of the sodium in your brand of broth when adding other seasonings.

Tip: If making multiple batches of these for a party, place the first tray of juices in your largest crockpot and heat on warm or low. As the brats come off the grill, transfer them to the slow cooker, or hold them all in the tray with the grill on low once finished grilling.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on July 1, 2014
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26 comments:

  1. Those are some great looking and sounding brats Mary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Larry! Wish I had some of those brats I first had from Sheboygan. Man, those were awesome!!

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  2. As a Wisconsinite currently living in Maryland I appreciate this post! We usually use Leinnies for the beer and I boil mine first and then finish them on the grill :) Have those with a brandy old fashioned, some cheese curds and a Packers game and you're good to go :)

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  3. Looks delicious Mary!!! I have done n them this way with onions and peppers but gotta try your recipe!!! Don

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  4. Klements brats and the no name brats from Aldi's are much better than Johnsonville. cooking first before grilling takes all the brat flavor out of the brats and drys them out, even though you're cooking in beer and onion. the way we do it in Wisconsin is grill them first and then simmer them in a crock pot for a little while with beer and onion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, that sure didn't take long! I wondered just how long it would be before somebody criticized my method here. I will however have to agree to disagree with you. I like them this way although I do recognize that there are other ways and in fact, acknowledged your method above in my post had you taken the time to read it.

      On the brands I also acknowledged that above, but please recognize that not everybody has an Aldi's in their area and Johnsonville are the most widely available to most folks which is why I mentioned them along with links to where folks can purchase Wisconsin brats and rolls online.

      Might it have been better had to actually read my post before jumping in to criticize my method and my blog?? And next time, maybe don't do so anonymously, but hey, thanks so much for stopping by!

      Delete
  5. Ugh, as a Wisconsinite I am embarrassed by the above anonymous commenter. In general we are very polite, friendly people! Sorry Mary!!

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    Replies
    1. Aw Amy, you are too sweet but no need to apologize!! It happens & I've met the folks in Wisconsin & found them to be very kind folks, although they did kinda pick on me about my accent LOL!

      Delete
  6. Well, I LOVE to do brats this way and I use Johnsonville here in Texas. I usually simmer them on the stove top first then grill them. I usually use Shiner Bach. Wether it's authentic or not, it sure is good!!
    Shirley B.

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  7. Boy Howdy. I see SOMEBODY just learned that Gulf Coast women are not only the most beautiful and genteel women on the face of the earth but also can pick up an egg suck dog and set him or her down HARD while killing them with kindness, smiling the whole time. Bless his heart Mary, his momma TRIED to raise him up right, but sometimes it just don't take.

    But I think you covered the flyby lol.


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  8. Mary….
    Wow! Some people just need to relax, or at least slip into something more comfortable… like a coma. Being born, bred and raised in NYC, and having cheffed professionally, I could tell you all about how we do things in NYC. But I won’t. That’s not my place. Besides, baking is a science; filled with all sorts of formulas. As I call cooking, “It’s flammable indoor sport… with consequences; and it’s all about personal tastes.”
    The reason I come to boards like this is for inspiration, and the opportunity to do something I really love to do, help others: With humbleness, not arrogance. As I’ve told people in the past, “The only difference between my ‘jacket’ and your apron, is that when I screw up… it’s in Biblical proportions.”
    Keep up the good work. God bless.

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    Replies
    1. LOL Chris, and that is why I am a home cook & NOT a professional chef, I would be terrified! Thanks for the kind note & have a Happy 4th!

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  9. These were yummy. I love your blog, appreciate your sharing nature. Thanks!

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  10. Thanks for the link to the hard rolls. I had tried earlier to find a recipe for these but ours didn't come out right. Glad to know where to order them.

    Yes, a lot of people are very serious about their brats, but my philosophy is cook 'em how you like 'em. I like mine several different ways and the method you used is one of the first ways I did mine too (and still do on occasion).

    You've got me hungry for some brats!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Well I couldn't comment to enter your free recipe book but I have to say that those brats look awesome!! I am definitely going to have to try your recipe. I'm from New Braunfels, Texas where we celebrate brats every year at Wurstfest!!

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  12. Replies
    1. Thank you Oliver! I'm sure that it's not the perfect Wisconsin way, but hey, it works here for the Deep South!

      Delete
  13. Hi Mary,

    Your recipe looks wonderful! I am from Wisconsin, and now live in Sheboygan. The perfect Wisconsin way is however your Mom or Dad taught you to make bratwurst :). I moved here from Green Bay, and found I didn't know how to "fry out" as Sheboyganites phrase it. I do like the way they make brats, and I commit the sacrilege of using ketchup too! :) But what I discoveredt is there are as many different ways to "fry out" as there are people and when you are hungry, and with friends or feeding your family, they ALL are good.

    When I married and moved here 23 years ago, I was amazed how many small family meat markets there were who each made their own recipe for brats. Each family had their own following of customers because each recipe for brats were just a little different. Our neighborhood had "Poth Meats" as our local butcher and they made a good bratwurst. They have since closed. Sadly, we now have just a small handful of small family meat markets, and I miss the little meat markets.

    My favorite way is just to slow grill them on charcoal and serve it on either a brat bun or a semmel with sauerkraut either alongside American or German potato salad and coleslaw.

    Joanne

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Joanne! We have that same issue in the South. What one family does in one part of the South will sometimes be much different than another family in another part of the South, or even frankly, in the SAME part of the South. Some people stand by their stubbornness though that their family's way is the only "right" way & everybody else's family must be doing it wrong! I say however your family did it is the right way, for YOUR family, but that doesn't make other folk's ways wrong.

      I actually had one of those small family meat market recipes for bratwurst, but it was for a large batch & I never took much interest in it when I had it. Wish I could find it now!

      Delete
  14. Mary, love the recipe and the blog, of course. You are providing an amazing service to transplanted Southerners. Question: You say to return the brats to the hot tub after they are grilled --- that is, the same hot tub where the raw, uncooked brats went to stew before grilling. Is the fact that the tub is "hot" and cooks the brats eliminate the risk of returning the grilled brats to a tub filled with bacteria, salmonella or other nasties? Should there be two tubs? One for parboiling/stewing and the other to simply hold the finished, grilled product?

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. I'm no food scientist, but for me, the answer is yes, but the mixture is boiled as the brats cook and continues to boil when they are removed to the grill, so I don't have a problem with it, much like what one does when they use a chicken marinade by boiling it.

      If that troubles you, just do the reverse. Grill the brats first, then put them in the beer. It won't be the same, but you'll have piece of mind. :) You could also absolutely do two tubs as you mention.

      Delete

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