Beer-Braised Brats and Bacon with Apple-Kraut is a perfect recipe for autumn
Peggy Lampman | Contributor
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You can't beat the combination of bacon wrapped around pork sausage for a fall pork-centric menu, and the apple-kraut bed is the perfect sweet and tangy nest for the meat.
Keep it local and shop for your pork at Beircamp,(http://www.yelp.com/biz/biercamp-ann-arbor) Sparrow Meats or Arbor Farms. Beer too! Michelle Zajac, the beer and wine manager at Arbor Farms, told me she finds it better to cook with a beer that is more on the malty side rather than a hoppy one, recommending the Founder's label "Dirty Bastard."
The Grand Rapid brewery uses seven varieties of malt to brew the beer and the concentrated malt that comes through with cooking has a nice sweetness to it, which complements pork. A hoppy beer could contribute bitterness. Great to drink, but maybe not so great for braising pork.
You might prefer adding brown sugar to the brew for additional sweet notes, if desired.
8 pieces uncooked bacon strips
8 uncooked bratwurst
8 skewers or toothpicks*
4 cups beer, your favorite
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, optional
8 hoagie or brat buns (optional)
Mustards and ketchup (optional)
1. Wrap bacon around brats and secure both ends of bacon with a skewer or toothpicks.
In a large wide-lipped pan, add beer and bring to a simmer. Taste and add sugar if a sweeter flavor is desired. Braise sausages, covered over low heat, in beer until bacon is limp and sausages are slightly firm to the touch, about 15 minutes. Remove brats and reserve 1/2 cup remaining beer (for using in Apple-Kraut recipe), discarding remaining beer or reserving for another use.
2. Bring a gas or charcoal grill to high heat. Oil rack and grill sausages, with bacon attached, 6-8 minutes on each side, or until cooked through (165 degrees) turning sausages to evenly grill and fry bacon. Do not pierce sausages while cooking as that will cause them to drain savory juices and become dry. Do not leave brats unattended; you may have flare-ups from the bacon fat. If flare-ups occur, cover grill or move brats away from flame to cooler portion of the grill.
3. Remove skewers or picks from brats before serving. Serve with Apple-Kraut (recipe below); buns and condiments, optional.
*If using wooden skewers or toothpicks, soak in water 1 hour before using to help prevent flare-ups.
Peggy Lampman is a real-time food writer and photographer posting daily feeds on her website and in the Food & Grocery section of Annarbor.com. You may also e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.