I am a BIG FAN of bratwurst – one of the more awesome products of German cuisine. The name brätwurst is derived from two old German words, brät meaning chopped meat and wurst the word for sausage. Today, Germans associate it with the verb braten which means to fry or roast. In America, we just like to call them “brats” and grilled is, by far, the best way to enjoy them!
There is nothing better than how perfectly grilled sausages snap when you bite into them and that initial flood of juice that follows. However, grilling sausages can be a tricky endeavor. Just because it’s ground meat stuffed into a casing, doesn’t mean they should be cooked alongside the burgers on the grill.
I think most people are scared of under cooking sausages, so they go the other way and and end up with shriveled and dry, chewy encased ground meat. The other big mistake is trying to cook them too fast or throw them on a high-heat grill next to the burgers which results in burst casings and, again, dried out meat.
My solution to all of these woes is to employ both indirect and direct moderate heat to cook sausages. It may take a little longer (= more time for drinking beer), but the results are measurably better for plump, juicy sausages that snap when you bite into them.
A popular method for cooking bratwurst is to poach them in beer prior to grilling. Keeping with that theme, I am filling a drip pan with onions and beer for beer-flavored steam while cooking with indirect heat. This will help keep the sausages from drying out as well give the grilled sausages a place to rest until ready to be served. For more info, check out my post Grill Skill: How-To Grill Sausages.
Bratwurst with Pickled Peppers & Honey Mustard Sauce
serves four to eight
4 tablespoons butter
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 bottles (12 oz.) pilsner or pale lager style beer
8 (or more) uncooked bratwurst sausages
Toasted sausage buns, for serving
Sliced pickled jalapenos, for serving
Sliced pickled sweet cherry peppers, for serving
Sauerkraut, for serving
Honey Mustard Sauce:
1/4 cup whole seed mustard – I used Maille
1/4 cup spicy brown mustard – I used Gulden’s
3 tablespoons honey
Method: indirect/direct heat
Set up your grill for indirect cooking over medium to medium-high heat. Place a drip pan beneath the grate where the sausages will sit, leave the grate off for the time being.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the beer and bring to a boil. Transfer the onions and beer to the drip pan and put the grates on.
Cover grill and cook the sausages with indirect heat for anywhere from 20 minutes to 40 minutes depending on how big the sausages are and how hot your grill is. Flip them halfway through. Once the internal temperature is within 10 degrees of the finished temperature (145°F for a pork sausage), turn the heat to medium and finish cooking the sausages over direct heat. Continue grilling 3 to 4 minutes per side over direct heat to color and give the sausages a little char.
NOTE: to test the temperature of a sausage, stick the probe into one of the ends of the sausage, do not puncture the side of the casing or you’ll risk having a sausage on the grill spitting out juice.
Once you have moved the sausages to the direct side of the grill remove the grates over the drip pan. This will give the sausages a nice warm place to stay moist and plump and keep from drying out.
Serve sausages hot on toasted roll piled with sauerkraut, sliced peppers and drizzled with honey mustard sauce… the onions from the drip pan are pretty delicious too! 😉
Cheers and Happy Grilling!