Ideas for a Menu With Bratwurst

by Alissa Pond Mentzer
Bratwurst should be simmered, not boiled, to avoid splitting the casings.

Bratwurst should be simmered, not boiled, to avoid splitting the casings.

Bratwurst, a mild German sausage, calls to mind the hearty fall dinners of Oktoberfest celebrations and lazy summer afternoons by the grill. Bratwurst is not a low-calorie food. Eaten occasionally, it fits in with a balanced diet when served with healthful, veggie-packed side dishes and a light dessert. To appeal to younger diners, try serving bratwurst hot-dog style in a bun with kid-friendly toppings or sliced with a favorite dipping sauce.

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.

Side Dishes

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 instead or a green salad tossed with creamy ranch dressing. .

Skillet Dinners

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.

Lighten Up

Bratwurst-style sausages made from ground chicken are leaner than traditional pork 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 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.

About the Author

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.

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