Tuesday, March 23, 2010

For Better or Bratwurst

It is like the Continental Divide. You know about the Continental Divide, don't you? It is that place in the Rocky Mountains where if rain falls on one side of the line, the water will flow on its journey to the Pacific Ocean. If it rains on the other side, the water flows to, well... Kansas.

I think it is the same with food. If you drop someone on one side, they roll down the mountains liking artichokes, garlic and grilled salmon. If you fall on the other side, you eat a lot of corn, pork chops and beef. Or something like that.

The point is, I rolled down one side, my husband, the other. Poor guy can't meet summer without waxing poetic about farm stands and "real corn." I have the same longings for tomatoes and freestone peaches. With any good partnership, though, we have learned to cross the divide. OK, to be honest, mostly he has learned to cross the divide. Good thing he likes my cooking!

There is one food, though, that my husband was methodical about breaking into our diet, bratwurst. I had never had a bratwurst until we met. And, for the first, oh, 9 years of our relationship, didn't think too highly of them. Yet, every barbecue, birthday party, Fourth of July and multiple times in between he would request bratwurst. I am pretty sure that if you have been to our house in the last 10 years, you have eaten bratwurst nearly every time.
"People love bratwurst" he would say.
"I don't like bratwurst. Let's have polish sausage!" I would plead, but somehow he would always win.
He would make excuses, "These are bad bratwurst. If they were good brats you would love them." I didn't believe him.

Then, a couple years ago, Cooks Country (a division of Cooks Illustrated) had a recipe for The Best Grilled Bratwurst. Now this was something I had to try! They call it a recipe, but really it is a procedure, one that needs maps and a flow chart. This is lick-your-plate worth it! The result is gooey, slightly bitter, slightly sweet, messy goodness. The simple brat is raised to pass-the-polish-sausage status! Yes, Dad, it is possible.

Of course, when we gave up quadruped eating, brats became guilt-ridden. Turkey brats were eaten, but not really enjoyed. Luckily our brand new Sprouts carries chicken brats, which are surprisingly great. Bratwurst is back on the map! I am so excited, because summer is coming! The perfect time to have a party, grill brats and listen to my hubby complain that Texas corn sucks. Anyone want to come over?

The Best Grilled Bratwurst
6-12 bratwurst
1 onion, sliced
2 beers- anything light and cheap

cooking spray
9x13 disposable aluminum cooking tray

Slice onions and spray both sides with cooking spray. In pan, pour two beers and mustard, no need to stir.

Heat grill to high and scrape clean. Turning heat down to medium-high, place pan on one side of the grill. On the other side, grill onions lightly, flipping carefully when they have grill marks, about 4 minutes each side.

Place onions in pan and lightly grill brats. You just want to get them started, light grill marks and slight shrinkage of the casings, about 3 minutes per side. While grilling brats, adjust heat on pan side so that liquid is coming to a low simmer.

When brats are ready, place them in the pan, moving the onions aside so that the brats are in the liquid. Bring back to slow simmer and cook for about 20 minutes.
Move brats back over to grill side, and carefully grill till brown on all sides. Be careful as they may flare up! Turn up heat to high on pan side and boil onion mixture until it is a thick gravy consistency.

Recipe Notes:
You will need a gas grill to do this recipe! Don't even try it with charcoal. With enough practice, your brats and sauce will come off the grill at about the same time, but don't worry if you have to pull your brats off and cover with foil as your sauce finishes up.

The pan and onions on the grill. You can see that you don't have to stir the mustard into the beer, it gets all mixed up eventually.

The onions are in the pan, and the brats are on the grill for the first time. See the dark grill marks on the onions? You want some of that!

Everything is in the pan. These brats are pretty big! If you had Johnsonville brats, you should be able to fit two packages in there, but it will be close!

The brats are back on the flame, getting slightly brown. They are totally cooked at this point, so don't overdo it. Just give them a nice look and bite.

The sauce looks perfect!

Don't forget to lick your plate!

1 comment:

  1. I love this recipe, but feel guilty about using an alumimum pan and tossing it. I wonder if we could figure out a way to do it in a different pan or something...