Nothing Says Wisconsin Like a Grill Full of Bratwurst
Explore Wisconsin knows (better than most) that Wisconsin is the state where you can have both the best of times and the “wurst” of times. By “‘wurst’ of times” we’re of course speaking of the classic Wisconsin bratwurst. Most who live here understand that brats are one of Wisconsin’s favorite foods and a family tradition. We owe it to our German ancestors, who first brought their old-world bratwurst recipes when they settled here in the 19th century. It might have been hard for them to believe that one day we would have actual festivals dedicated to this fantastic food. Bratwurst consumption was made popular in Sheboygan County, WI in the 1920′s due to a trend of butchers providing low cost made to order sausages.
Not too far from Shebogan is Johnsonville, home of the “Big Taste” Johnsonville Sausage. Johnsonville Sausage is America’s largest brat producing company and the primary sponsor to Bratfest – The largest “Brat Fry” in the world. On Memorial Day weekend 2009, the current world record for brats consumed at a bratfry took 4 days, 45 hours, and under 1 tent 208,752 brats were served. (For more Bratfest Stats Click Here)
Wisconsin serves up the most brats but the individual title of eating the most brats is held by Takeru Kobayashi from Nagano, Japan. Kobayashi ate 58 brats (4 to a pound brats) in 10 minutes. American’s love their sausage, especially our hot dogs, but not as much was Wisconsin loves their brats. It’s a little known fact that Miller Park in Milwaukee, WI is the only baseball stadium in the United States that sells more bratwursts than hot dogs.
Mr. Kobayashi Ate 58 1/4-pound Bratwursts in 10 Minutes
In our Explore Wisconsin Business Directory you can find many restaurants that serve bratwurst on the menu and there are over 40 different meat markets serving their own version of bratwursts. (Click here to browse them all)
With specialty markets spread across the state you can be sure to find bratwurst easily anywhere you might happen to visit.
When you do find your favorite sausage, you’re going to need to know how to cook it properly. After all, you don’t want anyone to think that you’re from out of town. Preparing brats is easy if they’re already stuffed in the casings and ready to cook. The fresher the better and pork is the king of the meats for a true Wisconsin experience. Some may argue that venison brats are the true Wisconsin brat, but it’s still a brat even if you mix in veal, beef, or chicken. Some say it’s wrong to serve brats with ketchup and they feel they should only be served with mustard. If you’re in the Sheboygan area you’ll want to watch out for “The Double”. The double, if you haven’t guessed, is two brats served in a Sheboygan hard roll (also called a Semmel roll or brat roll it’s a chew roll with a delicately crispy crust) mustard and onions optional. In Wisconsin, it can be said that there are as many brat recipes as there are grills. As promised in the title of this article, I will give you one of my personal brat recipes:
Winter Beer Brats
This recipe will serve 10-15 people. With this recipe you can do your grilling before the sun goes down early on winter nights and have food ready before the party starts.
Brush off That Snow, Try Our Winter Brat Recipe
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Crock Pot (reg. sized or large kettle)
- Grill (Charcoal, preferably)
- Food quality baster or food safe sprayer
- Brats (3-4lbs of your favorite, fresh pork is recommended)
- 2 lg. sliced sweet onions
- 1 cup of butter
- 1-2 cups of beef stock
- 2-3 Bottles of your favorite beer
- 10-15 Sheboygan hard rolls
- Season salt
- Your favorite mustard
Here’s what you do with it:
Heat your grill surface high and then reduce to med/low heat, (if charcoal, a glowing bed of coals. Grill brats to get char marks and smoke flavor. DO NOT OVER-GRILL/OVER COOK because the brats will continue to cook in the broth later. Use the baster or spray filled with beef stock to reduce tragic flar-ups and burns that can occur during grilling. Split and lightly butter and season the hard rolls (you may choose to toast them on the grill when the brats are on) After the brats are about 60-75% cooked move them to the crockpot.
Fill the crock pot up with remaining butter, chopped onions, beef stock, and then top it off (until all brats are covered) with beer. Leave the crock-pot covered while it simmers on low for 3-4 hours. Turn to warm or off right away to avoid over-cooking.
Tips for the best brats:
- Never poke or puncture your brats
- Drink remaining beer during simmering time, or use extra time to prepare classic Wisconsin side dishes like German potato salad, smelt, or fried cheese curds.
- Perfect time for gourmet mustard, try spicy Chinese mustard mixed with a little mayo or classic German mustard
- Try a double, Sheboygan claims it’s the only way to eat brats
Please submit your brat or other Wisconsin Style recipes to info@explorewisconsin and we might post it on a future updates to Explore Wisconsin.