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Beer and Caraway Braised Bratwurst

Updated July 06, 2016
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This image courtesy of David Loftus

It’s game day. You’re almost finished smoking six racks of ribs, but suddenly your small party has become a blowout. Instead of stressing, look to this perfectly porky sausage to fill out your meal. Stuffed in a soft bun, it’s the ultimate hand-held, no-fuss food. Because I always end up hanging out and eating all day, I grill the brats, and then let them wallow in a bath of beer spiked with onions and garlic, so they stay moist and get all yeasty and delicious. Extras like mustard, sauerkraut, or caramelized onions certainly don’t hurt.

Serves12

Cooking Methodbarbecuing, grilling

CostModerate

Moderate

Total Timeunder 4 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionFamily Get-together, game day

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, low carb, peanut free, soy free

Equipmentgrill

Five Ingredients or LessYes

Mealdinner, lunch

Taste and Texturegarlicky, herby, meaty, savory, smoky, spiced, sweet

Ingredients

  • 12 uncooked bratwurst
  • 24 ounces beer (not light) or lager
  • 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 12 unpeeled garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds, crushed with a rolling pin or heavy-bottomed pan
  • 4 flat-leaf parsley sprigs
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed hot red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 12 soft rolls
  • 2 batches Grilled Sweet Onions (below)
  • About 5 cups sauerkraut
  • Mustard of choice
  • 3 to 4 sweet white onions, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground fresh black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter
  • 6 garlic gloves, peeled, and grated on a Microplane grater
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Instructions

For Bratwurst:

Position two heavy-duty aluminum-foil wrapped firebricks about 4 inches apart on one area of a well-oiled charcoal or gas grill, and preheat all areas to high.

Combine the beer bath ingredients in a baking dish or disposable aluminum pan, preferably a 13 1/2 X 9 5/8 X 2 3/4 -inch lasagna pan. Place the uncovered dish on the bricks, close the lid and preheat until hot, about 45 minutes.

Add the bratwurst to the bath. It’s okay if the bratwurst touch and are not completely submerged in the bath. Close the lid and cook for 20 minutes, flipping the bratwurst once halfway through the cooking.

Meanwhile, pour a film of canola oil into the baking dish or disposable pan.

Remove the bratwurst from the bath, roll in the oil lightly to coat, and place evenly across the grate with about an inch between each. Turn to brown and caramelize deeply on all sides, about 2 minutes per side.

The brats can be served at this point, or held in the beer bath over very low with the lid closed for up to 1 hour. Occasionally test the heat of the bath. The bath should remain warm, 140 degrees F, but should not boil.

Serve the brats on soft rolls, topped with onions and/or sauerkraut, and mustard.

For Grilled Sweet Onions:

Cut the onions through the root end and lay, cut side down, on the work surface. Cut across each half, following the natural lines, to make perfectly even 1/8-inch slices. You will need 6 cups.

Place a cast-iron griddle on a well-oiled charcoal or gas grill. Preheat all areas to high.

Toss the onions with the 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, thyme, sugar, salt, and pepper.

Pour the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil on the griddle and let heat for about 1 minute. Spread the onions on the griddle and decrease the heat to medium. Close the lid and cook the onions, without stirring, for 10 minutes.

5. Move the onions to one side of the griddle. Melt the butter on the cleared space, add the garlic, and stir to coat in the butter. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir the onions and garlic together and cook with the lid open until the onions are completely tender, about 3 minutes. Pour the vinegar right onto the griddle and mix into the onions.

6. Serve directly from the grill or transfer to a bowl.

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