German Bratwurst & Instant Sauerkraut
Frühlingsfestival is the little sister of Oktoberfest that runs from April 17 to May 3, 2015 in Munich, Germany. And since the season of grilling is upon us, I thought I’d work on my sausage making skills to get in shape for the main event this September. To make your own sausage all you need is a meat grinder, sausage filling tube attachments, some casings, and beer …lots and lots of beer. The rest is up to you — the kind of meat, the blend of seasonings, mild or spicy… Even the type of beer since you’re only drinking it.A couple standard guidelines to think about and you’ll be hosting the baddest backyard cookout in the neighborhood. The first and most importantly when handling raw meat is KEEP IT COLD. Even a little surface frost doesn’t hurt. And that includes the equipment. Put all your meat grinding equipment in the freezer for 20 minutes before you start. Two reasons: the first is safety. When I said the baddest cookout, I didn’t mean giving everybody food poisoning. And the second, is the fat content. If your meat is too warm, the fat starts to melt, so what began as a greasy sausage to assemble quickly becomes an insanely dry sausage to eat. So keep everything cold.
Another guideline to consider, as mentioned above is the fat content. No fat, no flavor and a crumbly texture that makes any overcooked turkey look like an oasis. Start with a minimum 20% fat. Personally I prefer closer to 40%, after all, half of it ends up squirting out during cooking. Even if you make chicken sausages, use the thighs and legs. If the fat bothers you, then I’d suggest indulging in a fresh green leaf salad. All. By. Yourself.
One last guideline to think about: research. If you’ve never made sausage or even ground your own meat, then I’d recommend taking a few minutes out of your day to familiarize yourself with the proper equipment. Pick up the owner’s manual or look it up on the internet. There’s no need of making careless mistakes and wasting a lot of time and food because you didn’t know what all the parts are for.
And that’s it. Below are my recipes for bratwurst and sauerkraut. You’ll notice I use bacon in the ground pork, that’s for a smokey element as well as for a higher fat content. If you prefer a spicier sausage then just add 1-2tsp of cayenne pepper. Personally I do prefer a sausage with a bit of bite, but my little guy hasn’t developed a palette for spicy yet.
- 3 lbs.(1.4kg) pork shoulder
- 1 lb.(450g) bacon
- Pork Casings about 32-35mm in diameter
- 1 tbsp coriander
- 1 tbsp dry mustard
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika
- 1 tbsp smoked sea salt
- 2 tsp dried marjoram
- 1 tsp ground sage
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried thyme
1. Soak casings in cold water for 20-30min. Rinse before using.
2. Combine all the seasonings and mix well.
3. Grind the pork shoulder and bacon using the fine grind attachment. While grinding the meat, grind both cuts together for a good mix.
4. Pour the seasoning on the ground meat and work in using your hands, though work quickly to keep the meat from warming up.
5. Pull all of the casing down the appropriate size sausage tube attachment. Turn on the machine until the meat first enters the casing. Cut off that end and then tie a knot.
6. Slowly and steadily feed the sausage meat into the casing, using one hand to keep the casing packed tight. Don’t overpack it or the casing will break, and don’t worry about looser sections because they will even out when you twist the filled casing into single sausages.
7. When you’ve gotten to the end of the casing or meat (which ever comes first), tie a knot in the other end of the casing. Use a pin or needle to prick all the way down the sausage in several places. This will keep the sausage from splitting as it cooks.
8. Now, to make smaller individual sausages, start at one end and twist where you’d like your desired length of sausage. Moving on to the next sausage, pinch the casing where you want to twist. This time when you twist, be sure to twist in the opposite direction as last, so one sausage is twisted forward, and the next is twisted backwards and so on.
9. When you’ve gotten to the end you should have a little more excess casing from packing the sausages tighter. Tie a knot snug with the final sausage and clip the excess casing.
10. Store in the refrigerator for up to 24hrs before freezing. You can eat them in as little as 2 hours after making, but the longer they rest, the more the flavor will develop.
Ever wonder what you could do with all that leftover pickle juice? Make instant sauerkraut.
- Cabbage, shredded
- Dill pickle brine (or equal parts of white wine vinegar and water with salt to season)
Use the quantity of cabbage you wish.
*If you prefer a Norwegian style sauerkraut, add sugar to sweeten (about a 1/4 cup per head of cabbage), and toasted caraway seeds (about 1 tbsp per head of cabbage).
After you’ve shredded the cabbage, cook it in boiling water for 3-5 minutes until the thickest pieces start to get tender.
Strain and rinse with cold water to stop it from cooking.
Place cabbage in a container and cover with dill pickle juice. Seal the container and let it pickle for a minimum of 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Longer is better.
Serve with sausages and mustard.