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 online 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. Now... if you are leery about cooking the brats in the beer bath first, then grilling and returning them to the pan, prepare two beer baths, one for the first boil and another to place the cooked brats into, or you can also just simply pull them from the grill.


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 potholders, 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. Serve immediately or return brats to the hot tub as they finish (see Cook’s Notes below). 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: If you're leery about cooking the brats in the beer bath first, then grilling and returning them to the pan, prepare two beer baths, one for the first boil and another to place the cooked brats into, or you can also just simply pull them from the grill once cooked. 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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