Get ready to roll up your sleeves and do what seems like the impossible! Brats are not easy, but they are wonderful and you can make a ton of them to eat over the year. My vote it that you make a bunch in May and have your fill for summer cookouts.
German work escapades surrounded by an abnormal amount of food
After the dramatics of Spain, you’ll be happy to hear that Germany was simply a work trip. No drama involved. This week is going to be mostly about the food. Taking on brats (and pretzel buns) was more than a little intimidating. Everything up to this point was from a relatively easy recipe. I must have scoured two dozen sites learning how to make brats. Good news – I’m going to make it super easy for you.
Why brats, pretzel buns, and potato salad
Can you think of anything more German? Nope. Didn’t think so.
An Austin German experience
Learning to cook German brought me to tears – twice. Once out of frustration with the damn sausage grinder and once because of hurt feelings. There are definitely a few tricks with the sausage maker, but I’ll show you the way so that you can skip the tears. As for the hurt feelings – I invite typically one or two people over for each meal with the hopes that small group dining will strengthen my friendships. Sadly, my original guest cancelled on the day of, which left me with tons of food and no one to share it with. I was devastated – like crying in public devastated. The thought of having cooked tons of food and having no one to share it with made me feel insanely lonely – and pathetic for crying over it. Enter my heroes – Chris, Lauren, Eric, and Sandy. They jumped to the rescue on a moment’s notice- happy to try out this novice German cook’s trial run.
Kitchen gear – sausage grinder and hog casings
This sausage maker is absolutely a dream – once you figure out the tricks. It’s beyond cheap and works as good as the expensive machines. The hog casings look and smell gross, but it got a bit better as I went along. Oh, you’ll also need pork fat. This was a bit hard to find, but I eventually found it at the Hispanic grocery store’s meat department.
- Installing blades – make sure that the two holes on the rotating shaft fit into the two holes on the blade. When you put the white cap on, make sure it is tight.
- Turning the crank – If you are grinding tough meat and the crank sticks, give it a turn in the opposite direction
- Suctioning to the counter – Make sure the counter is very dry, push down a little on the top while turning the lock on the side. Use the key to turn the lock. You should not be able to move the grinder from the counter. Keep trying until you get it right.
How to cook brats
I have zero aspiration to re-create all of the great content out there on this topic. Hopefully I’ll save you some web surfing time. These websites were easy to follow and saved me a ton of time (and probably a few more tears)
- Everything you always wanted to know about sausage
- How to make homemade sausage (removed link to Simply Recipe site)
- How to stuff sausages
Full German menu:
- Brats – Italian (below and yes, I get the irony, I just like spicy food), Jalapeno cheddar pork
- Pretzel buns
- German potato salad
Inspirational recipe and resources
There were a LOT! I used this and this and this link for the brat recipes. The pretzel buns were inspired by Jeff Mauro on the Food Network and the German potato salad really ended up being a combination of many different recipes.
Tweaks and cautionary tales
- Definitely keep the meat cold and cut it into long, skinny pieces.
- Make the links bigger than you think. They will shrink down when cooked and look a little sad.
- Follow the instructions exactly as written the first time through. The specifics are specific for good reason.
How to make brats, pretzel buns, and potato salad healthier
Good luck! The pork fat addition here really adds on the calories. You could eliminate it, but the resulting product will be drier and you’ll yield less overall. In my version of the potato salad, I got rid of a lot of the bacon grease, so that helps already. I have an idea for the pretzel buns, but I haven’t tried it yet. What if you hollowed out one side of the bun and put the brat inside. You could still eat it easily but not have as much bun. I’ll let you know if it works!
Nitty-Gritty – Brats
- Learning Curve: very high
- Pre-work: none
- Vegetarian: absolutely not, although I’m sure there is a recipe out there somewhere.
- Healthy: The turkey options aren’t terribly bad for you
- Freezes well: extremely well
Sorry.. will repost the recipe later. It seems Simply Recipe is not open to my driving traffic for their site. 😉