I grew up in Wisconsin, so I know brats. I eat more pounds of brats a year than I like to admit. It’s always been a dream to make my own sausage, and what better way than to make this Wisconsin classic. This homemade bratwurst recipe is based off this Sheboygan brat recipe from Honest-Food.net. I have a lot of respect for Hank Shaw and I was excited to try one of his recipes. These brats are fresh and flavorful with subtle notes of caraway and beer, great for any tailgate or cookout. These took me a few hours to make the first time so if you’re looking for an easier sausage to make first, check out this Mexican chorizo recipe.
- 4 lbs pork shoulder, untrimmed
- 10 ft of hog casings
- 6 cheap beers
- Large white onion, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 5 teaspoons non-iodized salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon caraway seed
- 1 teaspoon mustard seed
- Sausage grinder, stuffing tube (horn), coarse and finer grinding plates
- Large, shallow bowl
Yield: Makes about 15, 6” brats
Making the Sausage
- Rinse casings inside and out. Soak in water in fridge overnight to minimize smell and maximize stretch. Place in bowl of warm water 30 minutes before using.
- Partially freeze pork, then cut into cubes small enough to fit into grinder.
- Mix in salt, pepper, marjoram, ginger and nutmeg with hands.
- Place pork, metal grinder components and a bowl in freezer for 30 minutes.
- Grind 1/3 pork through coarse plate and the other 2/3 through the next finer plate. This makes for a more interesting consistency.
- Freeze pork for another 30 minutes.
- Thoroughly mix in caraway and mustard seeds with hands.
- Place horn on meat grinder. Place casings onto horn.
- Put ground pork into grinder and turn on until it starts coming out horn. Tie end of casing off. Turn on grinder. Use fingers to regulate the speed of the casing coming off the horn. Be careful not to overstuff. Guide sausage into a coil.
- Make links by pinching every six inches then twisting individual link 3 or 4 times. Alternate twisting directions for each link for best results.
Cooking these brats properly is just as important as making them. It is true to Wisconsin style to first poach brats in beer and then grill. This prevents the casings from splitting due to too much heat/time on the grill and also adds that amazing beery flavor.
- Combine beer, onion and garlic in pot. Bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer. Place brats in beer for 10 minutes.
- Grill over medium-high heat turning every couple minutes until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Place brats in beer mixture over low heat until ready to serve.
Smoking these brats would be another fantastic way to prepare them! Check out this DIY wine barrel smoker if you are interested in making your own.
- This homemade bratwurst recipe produces a great tasting brat, no doubt. Next time however, I’m going to play around with the spice amounts and cook up some test “patties” before putting the pork in casings to see if I can make this an even better recipe. I’d recommend doing the same before stuffing to make sure you like the flavor.
- Many sausage makers insist on trimming the shoulder of fat and then adding in fatback to the correct ratio. I don’t like the idea of throwing fat away just to replace it. But, some sausage makers say the fatback provides better taste and texture than the fat in the shoulder. Either way is acceptable and it is really up to preference.
- In Hank Shaw’s original recipe, he utilizes dry milk, heavy cream, and an egg white. From my limited research, these ingredients seem to be more common in the German style bratwurst to provide a fluffier texture. To make things simpler and stay in tune with the Wisconsin style, I omitted these ingredients.
- The amount of salt recommended for use in sausage and brats varies greatly from recipe to recipe. This recipe calls for a little less then ½ tbsp/lb but other recipes recommend 1 tbsp/lb. 1 tbsp/lb seems excessive to me. That would be about 75% of your daily recommended intake of salt in a single brat. If it tastes good and you don’t care about the salt amount, that might be fine. I’ll stick to using less.
- Many sausage makers say you should prick your sausages. One of the arguments is that it will allow air to escape, minimizing the chance of an air bubble bursting the casing when grilling. At the same time though, it will allow precious rendered fat to drip out of the sausage. If you grill the sausages with enough care and turn often, I don’t think pricking is necessary.