When we moved to the Midwest (Minnesota) we were amazed at the popularity of the bratwurst. It seemed like everyone was eating brats at every outing. Brats were the star at picnics, company parties, and tailgating gatherings before the game. The grocery stores offered more kinds of bratwurst than we ever dreamed existed.
How to cook bratwurst? Of course, they were grilled. They were also steamed. They were sometimes simmered in beer and then grilled. (Poke some holes with the tip of the knife to let the flavor seep into the brats.) Some folks said to simmer them for five minutes and some, fifteen. Some simmered them in straight beer, some added onion slices, and some added apple slices.
We learned to love brats. We bought the fully cooked kind. (If you buy the uncooked variety, bring a thermometer and make sure the interior of the brat reaches 160 degrees.) We grilled them. We roasted them over open fires on sticks like we used to do with hot dogs. (Once we discovered brats, we never went back to hot dogs.) We fried them on the stovetop. We loaded them with sauerkraut and we ate them plain. We discovered cheddar-filled brats. The only rule was that we tried to cook bratwurst slow enough that they didn’t split wide open and lose a bunch of juice.
Recently we tried simmering brats in apple cider. It made for great, plump brats but try as we would, we couldn’t make them very apple flavored.
We’ve learned to load them up with sauces and relishes. Brats have a pronounced flavor, enough so that it’s hard to overpower them even with a spicy relish. And it’s hard to find a relish, or a sauce, or a chutney that doesn’t seem to go well with a brat.
But alas, a brat isn’t a dietician’s dream. So we try to go easy on our brats, eating them as an occasional splurge, not an every weekend event. That just seems to make us relish them more.
Enjoy your brats!