I was a vegetarian for a long, long time which is how I managed to have never eaten a beer brat (or any bratwurst, for that matter) until this summer. This in spite of living in the Midwest for several years, spending a year in Austria, and having—on two separate occasions—roommates from Wisconsin.
I was not particularly excited about the idea of beer brats, assuming they would taste pretty much the same as a hot dog or any other type of sausage-shaped meat product.
But I put one on my plate anyway as it was part of the meal being served at My Guy’s mom’s house and it was the polite thing to do, and I was hungry.
And maybe it was the grainy mustard, or maybe it was the crusty roll enveloping it, or perhaps it was the three glasses of wine I’d had, but that beer brat was delicious.
So I had another.
And so it was that on that night, beer brats went from being “a food you could eat, maybe for lunch” to being “a food you’d want to eat, even for dinner.”
Which is why I was super excited when I saw some bratwurst marked down at the grocery store (less than $2/pound) and, me being me, I bought every marked-down package they had, which was three.
And in case you ever come to my house and you happen to wonder why there is no room in the freezer, not even for one extra ice cube, now you know why.
Now, I’m sure there are plenty of folks out there who will tell you that it is very important to use good beer when cooking beer brats, but let me be a contrarian and say that it doesn’t really matter. Do you already have some beer in your fridge? Good, then use that. We used Corona when we made them at My Guy’s mom’s house, and Yuengling when we made them recently because that’s what was in the fridge.
It’s like the saying about wine: “If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it.”
Likewise, if you’re a beer snob, you’re probably not going to want to use a PBR here unless you’re on a tight budget and feeding a crowd.
[A note from planet Obvious: avoid using a fruity beer here because honestly, nobody wants to eat raspberry-flavored beer-onions].
You can serve these with or without rolls—rolls are more fun and—if you get the right kind—delicious, but eating them without rolls will make you feel more grown-up and less carb-coma-fied later, so choose wisely.
We used Cuban bolillo rolls from the Food Lion bakery which were surprisingly delicious, especially given the fact that they came from Food Lion. [Side note: I’m thinking of starting a Food Lion PR campaign called “Food Lion: Who Knew It Wasn’t So Gross?” which I think is a big step up from their current ad campaign of “Creepy-eyed Lady Talking At You From Her Kitchen.”]
Oh yes, beer brats. And how they’re delicious and easy and you should make them and here’s a recipe.Beer Brats Recipe 1 package bratwurst (about 1-1 ½ pounds, depending) 1 large onion (or 2 medium), sliced into rings 1 12-oz. can or bottle of beer (pilsners are usually recommended, but I say use whatever’s in your fridge, as long as it’s not fruit-flavored) 1 bay leaf ½ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper ½ teaspoon garlic powder, or 1 crushed garlic clove 1 Tablespoon butter optional: Rolls/buns for serving
In a medium-sized pot, add the sliced onions, bay leaf, black pepper and beer and place the brats on top. Cook over medium-high heat until beer begins to boil, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until brats are plump.
Heat a saucepan over medium heat and transfer the brats to the saucepan, leaving onions and remaining liquid in the pot. Cook the brats 2-3 minutes per side until slightly browned. [Optional: you could cook them on the grill or in the oven instead of the saucepan.]
Meanwhile, add the butter and garlic to the onion mixture. Continue cooking the onion mixture over medium heat until the liquid is reduced. Salt to taste, remove bay leaf, and serve alongside brats.
Serve brats with a grainy or spicy brown mustard on rolls/buns if desired, with sauerkraut or caraway-butter braised sauerkraut.