Wisconsin has given us many good things, including cheese and frozen custard. But one of their best offerings is bratwurst. Wisconsin bratwurst (or just brats) is a favorite at tailgate parties, the state fair, and pretty much wherever Wisconsinites are gathered. We've got two recipes here, one to make your very own Wisconsin brats, and then one to cook them in a Sheboygan Style beer bath. Bratwurst may seem like a massive, complicated project, but it's not. All you need is ground meat, casings, and a little bit of patience.
To make the bratwurst, take the ground pork and beef and mix it together with the spices in a large bowl. You can grind the meat yourself or ask your butcher to do it. Refrigerate the mixture while you prepare the casings. Once the casings are ready, stuff the casings by loading them onto the stuffer's tube. Twist the sausage to create the lengths you'd like to work with, then cut or leave whole as desired. Keep the bratwurst in the refrigerator until you're ready to cook them (no more than a day).
Wisconsin bratwurst is excellent for grilling, but you can also grill brats and then braise them in a beer bath for amazing flavor. First, grill the brats over medium-high heat, until they're browned, then transfer them to a pot with the beer bath (beer, butter, onions). A beer bath also works as a place to hold the beer brats until folks are ready to eat. The best brat is served on a crusty roll (don't use a plain hot dog bun) with sauerkraut, grilled or raw onions, and spicy mustard. Go Pack Go!
Homemade Wisconsin-Style Bratwurst
- 3 lbs pork butt or shoulder, about 80% lean
- 2 lbs lean beef or veal
- 1 tbs salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp caraway
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp celery seed
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- Casing, as needed
Sheboygan Style Beer Bath
- 6 cups beer
- 1 stick butter
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped or smashed
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 1 bay leaf
Make the Bratwurst
- You can always ask your butcher to grind the meat for you. But if you're grinding at home, cut the pork and beef into small half-inch or inch chunks that will fit your grinder. Grind in batches using a 1/4 inch grinding plate.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the meat and spices, then refrigerate. This can rest while the casings soak, or you can prepare it ahead of time.
- Rinse and soak the casing for at least 30 minutes, or as needed to remove the excess salt and rehydrate them.
- Stuff the casings by loading them onto the stuffer's tube. We don't recommend tying it off until you've started stuffing, that way it's easier to prevent air bubbles.
- Twist the sausage to create the lengths you'd like to work with, then cut or leave whole as desired. Refrigerate until ready to cook, but no more than a day. If it's going to be a while before cooking, separate the links and store in zip top bags with the air removed.
- Enjoy these sausages cooked over a hot grill, or braised in a beer bath with onions.
Beer Braised Brats
- Combine the beer bath ingredients in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Bring to a low simmer.
- Brown the sausage over a medium-hot grill, turning frequently or as needed to avoid too much charring.
- Once browned, transfer them to the beer bath, then braise for 15 minutes. They can rest in the bath as needed, to make it easier for people to serve themselves as they get hungry.
- Serve on a crusty roll, with plenty of mustard. Top with sauerkraut or braised onions, and enjoy!