The Basics of Brats

A brat is a simple meat — just bulk sausage stuffed into a thin casing. How hard can it be, right? There are a couple simple rules for how to cook brats. We call it the basics of brats; everything you need to know to grill them properly from now on.

Rule #1: Never buy mass market brats.

Never buy brats sold in a cardboard container or on a foam tray wrapped in plastic.

The best brats are purchased locally from your butcher. In fact, the only packaging they should have is butcher paper. Artisan brats are delicious brats. And you’ll probably find more delicacies, like brats made with apples or cheese or jalapeños or beer you can actually taste.

Rule #2: Never poke a hole in a brat.

Never poke a hole in a brat with anything but your teeth.

There are all kinds of myths that involve poking holes in the skin of brats. A hole in the brat’s skin allows fat to leak out. No matter how unhealthy it might be, fat tastes good. Remove the fat and the flavour goes with it. It also increases the chances of drying the sausages out.

Rule #3: Never ever boil brats.

Never boil brats in beer or any other liquid before or after going on the grill.

Boiling brats actually leaches flavour from the meat. Steaming them with simmering beer and onion slices in an aluminium pan is okay to keep brats warm and juicy. Boiling in any manner is never okay.

Rule #4: Never grill brats over high heat.

Most people cook brat like they do hot dogs, tossing them on a hot fire, causing them to rupture. When a brat ruptures, half of the flavour is splattered all over the grill grates. Set your grill to medium-low temperatures when grilling brats, allowing them to slow cook instead of exploding all over the grill.

Even when you cook them at lower temperatures, you may still have some leakage. But it will be a slow leak rather than a blowout. And last but not least, when you’re done grilling them, rest your brats, allowing the juices to settle down and redistribute throughout the sausage.