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Another bratwurst post, really? Yes, really.

When the change of seasons is in the air a boy's thoughts turn to grilled meats, naturally.

We've had plenty of comments about sausages here on the forum, for example:

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/food-drink/best-of-the-wurst

and

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/food-drink/more-on-sausages-for-memorial-day

and just now Alexa misheard a question I posed to her as "What's the difference between bratwurst and brotwurst?" but her answer was intriguing, and I think updated compared to earlier versions of her.
She says that there is a kind of standard definition of bratwurst but each region of Germany actually has its own version which will vary from others. (Maybe there are more versions than regions, I'm thinking?)

It was on my mind because I happen to have two different brands of bratwurst on my charcuterie board tonight --
DiBrova and Carando.

http://dibrovafoods.com/ProductsBrarwurst.shtml

https://carando.sfdbrands.com/en-us/products/fresh-sausage/original-crafted-bratwurst-sausage/

Once you have these on the grill and on the plate, no one would call them by the same name -- different look, taste, cooking time, texture. They are both bratwurst in the sense that Labradoodles and Afghans are both dogs.

So what are the real bratwurst and what are the variations?

The ones you had when you were a kid are the real ones, I imagine, and all the others are strivers.

Prove me wrong. The soap box is now yours.

Posted by
1810 posts

Wisconsin veal brats slow simmered in beer and onions and then quickly grilled are hard to beat. I think it is all about the individual sausage maker.

Have not found a decent commercial brand.

I found the best in Europe was in Vienna and not Germany. Although in Germany there were some excellent ones, like the one I had in Rothenberg on a salted rye/caraway bun with a flavorful mild mustard.

Posted by
8661 posts

I took a sausage-making class from a local shop which supplies meats, especially sausage and charcuterie, to many local restaurants. We made three different flavors of brats as part of the class. The instructor told us that traditionally, the brat recipes varied by region in Germany, and in particular, the liquid that was added to the recipe. That is, some places used beer instead of water, others used cream, and I dont remember what else. I have no idea if thats true.

The shop makes a variety of them, with spices like sage, jalapeño, paprika, and others. I dont care for any of them (I prefer knackwurst). But I like the idea of freshly made sausage over store bought. My beef with brats is that they are often served undercooked to my taste - just that grayish British color with a tiny brown stripe.

Posted by
33339 posts

Nürnberger Rostbratwurst sausages with a charred and crunchy skin. The sandwich is completed when the sausages are slathered with sharp yellow mustard.

they surely mean dark brown Süss (mustard).

Posted by
6104 posts

My dad was born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where they are quite serious about their bratwurst. They are pork, coarse ground with spices, and barbecued over a charcoal grill. My dad was very particular about the grilling. Some of his friends would grill them slow which my dad said dried them out. When he was young, bratwurst was purchased at the meat market. I'm not sure about the origin of Johnsonville brats but they are made in Sheboygan. Every August, Sheboygan holds bratwurst days. Until he passed at age 86, my dad made his own bratwurst with a sausage grinder and stuffer inherited from his dad. Growing up in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota, friends would ask me what we were having for dinner, and when I'd say, bratwurst, none of them knew what I was talking about.

Posted by
1810 posts

When he was young, bratwurst was purchased at the meat market. I'm not sure about the origin of Johnsonville brats but they are made in Sheboygan.

Johnsonville are an ok commercial brand, but it doesn't beat a locally made brat at a butcher shop (if you can find one). Another lost art along with bakers.

Posted by
8661 posts

jules m, until recently "Sheboygans" were the brats sold in kiosks at our MLB baseball stadium. It's good to know there's a story to it not just a brand name.

Posted by
3995 posts

In 1990 as we were flying to begin a 6 month sabbatical in Germany the in flight magazine featured 5 must try bratwurst in Germany. Needless to say we gave as many as we could find a try. The little, tender, wurstal in Nuremberg stood out. In Regensberg we tried the brats from the kitchen under the Roman bridge also good. But my personal preference are Thuringer brats at outdoor markets or festivals in the former East. And yes I always bring home several tubes of mild or sharf senf. Why did you post this question at lunch time Avi ;)

Posted by
1243 posts

Nürnberger Rostbratwurst - the only ones I am interested in! There is a stand (probably more than one) in the Munich Viktualienmarkt that makes and sells these. I get off the plane and head right there as my first treat of the trip!

Posted by
6104 posts

I also should have mentioned THE bratwurst bun. They come from Johnston's bakery, in Sheboygan, and known as the "Sheboygan Hard Roll". The Sheboygan bratwurst must be served on the Sheboygan Hard roll, or at least when possible. As a child, my grandparents would bring the hard rolls when they visited us in MN. After they passed, anyone going to Sheboygan was instructed to bring back the hard rolls.

It is my understanding that that particular area of Wisconsin was settled by Germans from the western and southern parts of Germany. My grandfather was from an area on/near the Rhine. I'd be curious to know if there are "bratwurst" in that area similar to what my dad and grandfather made.

Posted by
2597 posts

These are great stories!

As a toddler, my parents would keep me busy at the table in their local diner with boiled knackwurst and potatoes, and a cup of birch beer. That might have been how I first learned to use a knife and fork!

Posted by
473 posts

The worst part about bratwurst is that it's not really made out of brats.

-- Mike Beebe

Posted by
2597 posts

What did the kaiser roll say to the bratwurst?

Glüten Tag!

-- Alexa's joke of the day this morning. (Coincidence, or is she vacuuming up all my data?)

Posted by
7659 posts

avi, Alexa is on a roll!

And Cheddar Brats … those aren’t right, are they?

Posted by
2597 posts

I wanted to add a little coda to this topic by asking our fans of German sausages what the German version of

Calabrian 'Nduja is called.

In Aragon and the Balearic islands their version is called sobressada,

and I think of it as the Mediterranean cousin of Californian chorizo.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%27Nduja

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sobrassada

Does paprika and chiles make it into anything up there in the gray Teutonic regions?