Bratwurst is a German fresh link sausage usually made from pork and veal, and sometimes beef. It's definitely more a comfort food than a health food, offering richness and considerable depth of flavor thanks to its fattiness and traditional seasoning with coriander, caraway, ginger and nutmeg. The most important aspect of successfully cooking brats is just treating them gently enough to not burst their casing, as this tragically allows the juices and flavor to leak out. Once they're done, pairing them with other German classics is always a sensible way to fill out your menu.
On the Grill
Throwing some brats on the grill is the essence of casual summer dining. For authentic grilled bratwurst, buy uncooked brats and gently simmer them before grilling. Many recipes call for simmering in beer, but water works just as well. To get dinner on the table in a hurry, skip the simmering by using precooked brats and put them directly on the grill. Serve in a hot dog or brat roll and top with mustard, chopped onions, sauerkraut or creamy dressing. Grill some hot dogs or burgers for kids who don’t care for bratwurst.
Sweet and sour German potato salad is a classic accompaniment to grilled bratwurst. Serve it warm or make it ahead and serve at room temperature. Vinegary cucumber salads offer the same sweet-tart complement to bratwurst but are much lighter than traditional German potato salad. If you prefer, serve American potato salad, a pasta salad, cole slaw or a green salad tossed with creamy ranch dressing. Grilled corn on the cob is an excellent choice, too.
Bratwurst cooked on the stove makes an easy, one-dish meal. In a heavy skillet or Dutch oven, simmer the brats in water, uncovered, until the water evaporates. Add any combination of sliced onions, tart apples, potatoes, cabbage or rinsed and drained sauerkraut. Kids may prefer apple slices or applesauce served on the side instead of apples cooked with the bratwurst. Serve with hearty, whole grain brown bread.
Bratwurst-style sausages made from ground chicken are leaner than traditional pork, veal or beef brats. Because they are lower in fat, they tend to stick more on the grill on in a skillet, so use some cooking spray or a small amount of vegetable oil if necessary. Keep the side dishes light. Include lots of veggies in potato or pasta salads and use lower fat or nonfat ingredients in the dressing. Fresh fruit, such as watermelon slices, makes an easy light dessert for a summer meal on the grill. Indoors, top angel food cake or frozen yogurt with fresh berries or sliced peaches.
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Alissa Pond Mentzer worked in biotech research and educational publishing before becoming a freelance writer in 2005. She has contributed to textbooks for The Mcgraw-Hill Companies and National Geographic School Division and writes science articles for various websites. Mentzer earned a Bachelor of Arts from Rutgers University in anthropology and biological sciences.