Monday, July 30, 2012

Midwestern Beer Brats

“Hot enough for ya?”
“It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.”
                        And its partner, “It’s a dry heat, just like your oven.”
And my favorite?
“Satan called. He wants his weather back.”

Face it, this summer has been brutal, rivaling the 1930’s dust bowl era.
In our part of the country, drought has been the killer.

Check out this link to see how things are in your neck of the woods (sorry Ausjenny and others outside the US – couldn’t find a world link!):
Our area (the Black Hills of South Dakota) is classified as “extreme drought”. That means fire bans. All fires.

The problem? I have a charcoal grill.
Yeah, I know, gas is more convenient. But a gas grill just doesn’t give you that smoky flavor…

 Anyway, I haven’t been able to use my grill since June.
     No 4th of July barbeque!
                No Saturday night burgers!
                                And {gasp!} no brats!
What’s a mid-western gal going to do to feed her family?

Believe it or not, a southern belle came to my rescue.
(No, not Missy. The other one. Paula.)
This recipe was one her show one day back in June (before my daughter was employed and still had time to watch daytime TV), and when I thought I couldn’t stand going without brats one more week, I remembered it.
I’m rating this one “pretty easy”. You do have to open the beer cans…

Oh, and for those who don’t drink? There’s no alcohol in the finished product. It all gets simmered away - or you can use water or non-alcoholic beer.

Midwestern-Style Beer Brats
With thanks to the Deen brothers for the original recipe.
(Which I changed, of course. I can never leave those recipes alone!)
  •  10 fresh (not smoked or pre-cooked) bratwurst sausages (I used Johnsonville)
    • (This is to serve seven people, three with large appetites. Make as many brats as you need.)
  •   6  16 ounce, or 8 12 ounce cans of beer (buy the cheapest you can find) - or substitute water - or experiment with ginger ale or another fizzy drink
  •  1 large onion, sliced and divided into two piles
  •  A variety of peppers – I used those little bell peppers you can get in yellow, orange and red, and threw in a few slices of green pepper to go with them.
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 10 brat buns or hoagie rolls
  • Mustard – don’t skimp on this. Get the best German-style, stone-ground mustard you can find.
So, first we boil the brats in the beer. Empty the cans of beer into a large pot and add half the sliced onions. Prick the brats all over with a fork, and then drop them in. Bring the pot to a boil and simmer 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the remaining onions and the peppers. Cook about 15 minutes, or until they’re very soft, stirring and tossing occasionally.

When the brats are done simmering, add them to the skillet with about a quarter cup of the cooking liquid. Turn the heat up a smidge and stir the brats, peppers and onions together until the brats start browning (between 5 and 15 minutes). Add more liquid if necessary to keep the peppers from scorching. As they’re cooking, season with a few grinds from your pepper grinder (or shakes from your shaker).

Split the buns, if they aren’t already sliced. Slather one side of the bun with mustard and add your brat along with as many of the sautéed peppers and onions you desire.

And the corn? I used the microwave method Missy shared with us a few weeks ago, of course!


  1. YUM!

    And yes, it's been brutally hot here, too. The worst is when the sun goes down and... it's still 95F. UGH.

    I don't think I've ever had a bratworst. There's a palce in Walla Walla that made WW SWeet Onion suasages and I would make a date every summer to go down town in the sumemr jst to get one. Oh, man.

  2. we have heard about the heat and the drought. We haven't had a hot summer since I moved to this place. 4 summers ago we had 2 weeks of over 100 and up to 116 which when you have a house with no insulation and not A/C it was almost unbearable. but this house keeps cool for several days but then heats up. we havent had the heat to do that since I have been here. When its over 100 although its a dryer heat its just yuck the hot north wind really hits you. I dont do humidity I suffer badly from it.

    Its 51 at present. I have been cold all day but I think its partly due to my health issues.

    Not sure I would like this because I dont eat onions and dont like spicy foods. but looks interesting. (we do have bratworst here).

    1. I don't do humidity either. When it's dry (and not too hot), you can always find a shady spot, but when it's humid? I crawl in a cave.

      It's funny to hear you talk about the hot north wind - here (of course), it's the south wind that's hot. The north wind brings us cold air from Canada. What a wonderful gift those Canadians give us!

    2. I agree here we love a southerly breeze. but in winter its a southernly blast from Antartica and it means it will be really cold and icy. We have had a few blasts from Antartica this year.
      So do you blame Mexico for your hot south winds?

    3. I blame Texas for everything. Including the monster big pics.

      I think Mr. & Ms. Blogger reside in Texas. Everything's bigger there.

    4. Hey now, y'all need to stop blaming Texas. We're hot too. Hotter than usual. Not as hot as last year, but still hot, hot, hot.

  3. It's official. We've made the drought history books in my neck of the woods. Beat the record of 1933 in fact. That's the last time it was this close to hot and dry...well dry as in no rain but humid as in unbearable sticky heat. We have fire bans too -- but fires are still occurring daily all over the city because of carelessly discarded cigarette butts. It's that dry that a smoking butt will start a fire in a nano-second.

    I'll skip the brats recipe, I think -- not fond of tofu hot dogs. LOL.

    1. I understand skipping the brats - but maybe there's a way you can use the sauteed onions and peppers. Hmmm - on a panini with Monterrey Jack cheese? In an omelet? How about with chunks of tofu sauteed with them and then served in a roll?

      There are signs along the highways here reminding people to not throw cigarette butts out the window - I wouldn't have thought you'd need a reminder, but it is the height of tourist season.

      Speaking of that, the Sturgis Rally is next week. Hundreds of thousands of bikers show up. It's crazy.

    2. Ooooh, I like the way you think. Panini's for lunch! Only it will have to be melted cheddar cheese instead. Simba's drooling at the very thought and oh -- look -- it's lunchtime! :-)

    3. Kav, heat. Drought. Fires. So scary for so many. Jan, you're in the thick of it. Praying for you guys, and wishing it was June and rains had come.

      I love watching weather anomalies. To see some gulf stream current nudge the upper level jet stream off its normal course and watch Europe get blasted with snow and storms while I had a winter off... Fun. But I'm not silly enough to think it's a forever thing, because I remember my grandmother talking about the "Summer that never came" when she was young. And the dust bowl.

      But weather conditions can paralyze or kill businesses. And that's just beyond sad. I'm still not sure why we haven't hooked the mid-section of the country into the Great Lakes in drought years.

      If we can pipeline oil, why not water? Of course we can, they do it out west all the time. So why not the midsection? Doesn't that make sense? If they limited access to it to protect the lakes, and just used it in drought periods... Something to think about.

  4. Jan, this looks so yummy!! And yes, I'd call it easy. :) I can't wait to try it! My kids, of course, won't eat the peppers and onions. So that'll be more for my husband and me to enjoy! :)

    Thanks for sharing!

    Hey, for some reason some of the photos look huge to me! LOL Are they looking that way to you??

    1. My kids don't eat the onions and peppers, either, but they still add flavor!

      And no, the photos look fine to me. I'll see if I can tweak them.

    2. We're still laughing about the pictures. They're HUGE. But they're only funny when you get the the brats in a pot. *BAM* GIANT brats as big as your head!!

      Must be a midwestern thing.

    3. I made some changes - are they still showing up so big?

      And Virginia - are you sure the picture is too big? Those are pretty big brats!

    4. Yup, still HUGE! The funny thing is on two separate computers for me, the huge brats pictures have the list of all previous blog posts running right through the middle of the pot!

      Add me to the "never had brats" group.

  5. By the way, thanks for the map. My husband had just mentioned seeing a drought map, and said we were on it. I hadn't realized it had been so dry. It seems like we've had a relatively wet summer. But our county is actually half in the orange, half in the red (for extreme).

    1. Our big problem is that we didn't have any snowfall last winter - at least not to speak of. Our rainfall has been just under normal for the spring and summer, but it's the lack of snow melt that's killing us.

  6. oh man these look good! of course I could probably put an entire onion on mine if it's sauted!

  7. Jan, I haven't had a problem with monster big pics since switching to Google Chrome as the browser when I'm blogging. I had it happen several times in IE and Firefox. As if the two forms were fighting each other.

    See if that helps next time. Although the thought of those brats JUMPING OFF THE PAGE to eat me was kind of fun!

  8. Jan, the pix were big, but the brats looks totally divine. I love brats. Gained an appreciation for them when I lived in Germany. Used to crack me up to watch the neighbor grill them ala block party style. He always poured beer over them. Of course, he had a sip or two himself, but was a firm believer in basting with beer. Go figure.


    I'm still freaking my kids out with these pics. :D