Thursday, October 06, 2011

Brats with Sheboygan-style Buns - October 5, 2011

My latest homemade project came about because I found some all-natural corn-free brats at our local Whole Foods last week and also some naturally fermented vinegar-less and preservative-free sauerkraut. Actually, it started with the sauerkraut. When I purged the house of items containing corn derivatives last month, I was so sad to toss the nearly full jar of imported from Germany sauerkraut I'd recently purchased at the Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe in Arlington. I figured the only way I'd be able to eat sauerkraut again was to make my own, so I was thrilled to discover Cortland Valley organic sauerkraut in the grocery store! Extra bonus: It is from the Wisconsin-based GLK Foods, Inc.

The next hurdle between me and a taste of the homeland was the brat bun. I just don't trust any commercial bakeries right now and no one here really makes a proper brat bun anyway. Feeling emboldened by my recent successes at making homemade Tater Tots, I thought I could tackle the brat bun next.

There were no recipes in any of my cookbooks, so I did a little Googling and quickly found The Bratwurst Pages: Wisconsin's Soul Food where they explain the many nuances of brat culture and lore, including the German translation of "bratwurst" as "fry-sausage." That means that a "brat fry" is not only an entirely inaccurate term (although brats can be pan fried, a "brat fry" in Wisconsin is typically an event where brats are cooked outdoors on a charcoal or gas grill), but a redundant phrase meaning "fry fry"! They also helpfully provide a recipe for classic Wisconsin brat sides, including potato salad and semmel rolls.

The rolls were actually quite easy to make and only took a couple hours from start to finish. I didn't have any rye flour for dusting so used some semolina instead. I ended up baking them only for about 20 minutes and thought that might have even been a touch too long, or the 450 degrees was a little too hot in my oven. I'd advise watching them carefully and perhaps err on the side of removing them earlier and then returning to the oven for a finally heating and crisping right before serving.

The end result was quite good! A good bun with a serious bite that could hold up to my liberal dosing of sauerkraut and mustard. Will definitely be making these again (after I've consumed the remaining half dozen currently hanging out in the freezer, that is.)

I need to keep searching for brats though... these were pre-cooked and just didn't have the bite or juiciness of good Wisconsin brats.

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