Brats are loved for their amazing flavor. In case this is your first time hearing of them, you could closely relate the same to good old-fashioned hot dogs.
They make a great snack during summer, and could even serve as a main or side dish depending on how many you prepare. The best part is it doesn’t take much to get them done so you and your friends could down them in the backyard with a couple of beers and good laughs.
We have lined up an ideal recipe that will develop those inherent flavors to a mouth-watering delight!
What Are Bratwursts?
Here’s a bit of history to bring you up to speed. A brat originally is a German type of sausage that packs a punch. The standard and most common kind are made from pork meat. You may have already spotted them in your local store as they are quite common.
The name is coined from the native language where Brat means “finely chopped meat, while wurts refers to “sausage”. The meat is typically cured before packaging and this explains why they have a longer shelf life.
Fortunately, there are a lot of brat types depending on what region you come from, beef and veal varieties included. And as you can imagine, the preparation methods may slightly differ too. That’s a good thing though because then you can explore the numerous types until you find which works best for you.
Smoking or Grilling Brats, Which is Better?
When you’ve been around a lot of fire, it doesn’t make much of a difference in what technique you choose to apply. As long as you know how to operate your cookware the best way, you’re good to go.
Given, grilling is hot and fast. It’s going to take a shorter time to prepare and you’re ready to serve. But the risk with sausages is bursting open the cases especially when the temperatures climb high. This translates to keeping a close eye on your cook with every passing minute.
On the flip side, smoking uses a slow and controlled approach. Your sausages lie on the grates and gradually cook with low heat until they are ready. Lesser chances of splitting the case, but even better when the wood smoke permeates the meat giving it a much richer taste. That in itself is reason enough to go with the latter.
And if you’re worried about getting on that nice outer sear, rest easy. As the inside warms up, so does the outside begin to take on a crispy profile, one that you will enjoy biting into.
How to Smoke Bratwursts
The good thing with brat BBQ is it’s not going to set you back several hours. On the contrary, it is rather fast compared to most recipes and with no prior preparation needed. No brine whatsoever, just a smoker, your meat, and the fire.
Follow this guide to the perfect recipe.
You’re going to begin by preparing your smoker, so get your charcoal bag and wood chunks ready (assuming you’re dealing with a typical offset). Load them onto the firebox and light up. Once the fire starts to gain momentum, throw in your favorite wood combinations. A bit of cherry wood or apple will impart a sweet flavor on top of the earthy wood.
Strive for anything between 225F-250F, and do your best to keep the temperatures steady. If it means adjusting those air vents, do so. Once the barrel is ready, lay out your sausages leaving about 2 inches apart between each. Close the lid door and start the clock.
The estimated cooking time if temperatures are maintained is about 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours. But the true determinant lies in the readings of your meat gauge. Do not attempt to pull anything out before hitting the safe zone of 160F.
Around midway cook, you could go back to check on the progress as you flip the sausages. You want the same smoky color to coat both sides evenly. However, too much disturbance and you could lose temperatures within the main cooking chamber.
Pro-tip. If you’re not going to be suspending your meat on metal cooks as is the case with a vertical smoker, drizzle a bit of oil onto the grates so the skin doesn’t stick.
Serving your Sausages
This is where all the fun is! You could go as wild and crazy with the toppings because there’s really no limit. Traditionally, they make a great combo when accompanied with soft buns and caramelized onions, cheese dip, or sauerkraut. And as for the sauces, mustard, mayonnaise, Worcestershire, BBQ – the list is endless.
Any pitmaster out there will tell you, before plating these yummy bites; the key is to soak them in a beer bath. That’s right. Have ready an aluminum foil pan, mix in some butter, onions, and generous amounts of dark beer. If you can find “larger” the better.
Throw your brats in and let them sit for close to an hour. They will absorb a deeper flavor while simultaneously keeping warm. By the time they’re out, the taste is out of this world!
Which Smoker is the Best?
More advanced smokers such as pellet, propane smokers, and electric models have the advantage of less labor demand. You don’t have to do much to maintain your temperatures steady neither do you need to keep watch over the fire perpetually.
Although this is beneficial when you’re pressed for time, on the other hand, the old-fashioned wood and charcoal smoker is unrivaled when it comes to infusing rich zests. You’re going to get your hands dirty emptying the trash tray but it’s a small price to pay all things considered.
That said, go with what works best for you. If you already have either one that’s in perfect condition, no need to start hunting for a new kind.
There you have it! Your quick, easy recipe for scrumptious brats. Done well, you should enjoy intact casings with a load of juice inside. Go ahead and try it out, and let us know how you do. Cheers!