My first experience with bratwurst came at the tender age of eleven. I had just moved to Wisconsin from Illinois, where kielbasa was the main sausage in my life. Polish sausage reigned supreme, and I was a proud Pole living in a suburb of Chicago.
As we were driving into our new hometown, I noticed signs for “brats” at the local supermarkets. I was dumbfounded, and a little scared. Although a pretty good kid, I tended to be a little bit mischievous from time to time. Was this the reason for moving up north? I was preparing for the worse. Imagine my relief, when we went grocery shopping that first day and I saw that “brats” was short for bratwurst.
My first bratwurst was grilled and on a bun. That’s all it took to supplant polish sausage as my new number one. Luckily I’m part German, so there is no Polish guilt. I now try to incorporate brats into meals that call for other sausages. Here are a few easy recipes you may enjoy:
What you need:
1 package Johnsonville brats (5-6 brats)
28 oz jar spaghetti sauce
14.5 oz can green beans, drained
2 (4 oz) cans mushrooms, sliced and drained
8 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 c Parmesan cheese, grated
What you do:
Cut brats into bite-sized pieces. Cook in skillet until juices run clear; drain on paper towels. Mix brats, mushrooms, beans and spaghetti sauce in a bowl. Grease a 9 x 9 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour mixture into pan. Sprinkle on Parmesan cheese. Top off casserole with Mozzarella cheese. Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, uncovered. Cheese should be melted but not browned. Meal best served over noodles.
Beer Soaked Bratwurst
What you need:
1 lb of bratwurst
2 12 oz cans of beer
1 medium onion, chopped
16 oz jar sauerkraut with caraway seeds, drained
1 green pepper, chopped
2 T butter
What you do:
Layer bratwurst on bottom of 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking pan. Pour beer over bratwurst and cover with foil. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. In medium skillet, add butter, onion and green pepper. Cook on med heat until lightly browned. Add sauerkraut, mix and continue heating for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Wrap sauerkraut mixture in aluminum foil and set aside. Add brats and beer to large skillet or saucepan; cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
On gas grill: Set front and back burners to med heat and leave the middle off. Set foil covered kraut off to the side, away from direct heat. Place brats in middle of grill and cover. Cook brats for 10 -12 minutes, making sure browned on each side and watching for flare-ups.
On charcoal grill: Cook over mostly ashen coals for 10 -15 minutes, turning often and preventing flare-ups. Cook kraut away from flame. Serve brats on buns with kraut mixture on top and spicy brown mustard, or your choice of condiments.