The Ultimate Bratwurst

June 30, 2017
1 Rating
Photo by Julia Gartland
Author Notes

Poaching fresh sausages like bratwurst in beer (a crisp lager, pilsner, or aromatic Belgian-style ale) before grilling infuses them with added flavor, helps keeps them moist and juicy, and shortens their finish over the fire (since you’ll be giving them a nice char, and not cooking them through), so you’ll have more time to enjoy the party. For the best flavor, seek out the best quality sausages you can find (ideally from a local artisan meat market) and pretzel buns you can find. A drizzle of grainy mustard and colorful pickled radishes add sharpness and crunch, without getting in the way of this stellar sausage and bun combo. —Paula Disbrowe

  • Serves 8
  • For Sweet and Sour Pickled Radishes:
  • 1/2 pound radishes
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink peppercorns
  • For Bratwurst and Assembly:
  • 2 12-ounce bottles of Belgian-style saison or lager
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 large swath orange peel
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 8 bratwursts (or another fresh sausage)
  • 8 pretzel buns
  • Beer mustard, for serving
  • 1/2 cup Sweet and Sour Pickled Radishes, for serving
In This Recipe
  1. For Sweet and Sour Pickled Radishes:
  2. Stem and thinly slice the radishes (preferably a mix of varieties including watermelon, daikon, and globe radishes).
  3. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.
  4. Remove from heat, add radishes (pressing gently to submerge them in liquid) and cool. Refrigerate peppers in a glass jar (adding just enough brine to cover) and refrigerate until cold and crisp (they’ll last up to two months).
  1. For Bratwurst and Assembly:
  2. In a large, wide skillet, combine the beer, onion, orange peel, bay leaves and 2 cups of water (or enough to partially submerge all the brats in a single layer) and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the sausages, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until they’re springy firm and just cooked through, about 6 to 7 minutes. Allow sausages to cool in the cooking liquid until you’re ready to grill.
  3. Prepare a charcoal grill for two-zone cooking and build a medium fire (or heat a gas grill to medium-high). Remove the sausages from the poaching liquid and prick them on all sides with a sharp knife, to help them release excess fat. Grill the sausages over direct heat until they’re charred and bubbling hot, moving them to indirect heat as necessary for even cooking, and to prevent them from getting too dark (if you’re cooking on a gas grill, shut off one side of the grill). Remove from heat (or hold them in a cooler part of the grill or upper warming rack until serving). Split the pretzel buns and lightly toast them on the grill, cut-side down (about 1 minute). Place toasted buns on a platter, top with grilled sausages, a squiggle of beer mustard, and Sweet and Spicy Pickled Radishes.

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Paula Disbrowe writes frequently about Food and Travel. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her bread baker husband David Norman, two children, and menagerie of retired ranch animals.