A Midwestern favorite with Germanic roots, bratwurst sausage usually contains pork and such Central European seasonings as caraway seed, marjoram and white pepper. Because cheddar is so often paired with "brats" in sandwiches and soups, it's no surprise that sausage makers also offer cheddar bratwurst, in which cheese pieces join the ground meat inside sausage casings. The fresh sausages are versatile, but lend themselves especially well to foods and condiments of German origin.
Staples of the German or German-American table go especially well with cheddar bratwurst, whether when combined in the same dish as as toppings and sides. German potato salad is an obvious side dish for grilled cheddar brats. Serve it hot for extra authenticity, and make it with such classic Prussian ingredients as vinegar and bacon. A red cabbage and apple saute also pairs well with both regular and cheddar bratwursts. Browned onions and German mustard are customary topping choices. Include Pilsner-style beer as a beverage option.
Cheddar bratwurst doubles the cheese power in a classic macaroni and cheese dinner. Stir cooked brats, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces, into your favorite homemade recipe before it goes into the oven. Or, make boxed macaroni and cheese more special by tossing seared cheddar brat slices into the cooked mixture just before serving. For a more German take on the familiar dish, simmer the cubed sausage in beer just after searing it, then toss the boozy browned brats with rigatoni, olive oil, sweet onions, bell peppers and a handful of shredded cheddar.
Rye bread fits perfectly with the German vibe of bratwursts. To make a cheddar brat sandwich, grill or pan-fry one brat per sandwich, then slice it in half lengthwise. Set the two halved brat pieces side by side on one piece of buttered, toasted rye, followed by toppings like sauteed onion and mustard and the second toasted piece of rye. Alternatively, make a submarine-type sandwich -- also called hoagies, grinders or heroes -- with a beer-simmered cheddar bratwursts that's then browned in a skillet with onions. Set the cooked cheddar brat in a roll, and top it with the cooked onions and some mustard.
Before slapping bratwursts on the grill, simmer the sausages first in a beer, mustard and sauerkraut mixture. After grilling the cheddar bratwursts, nestle them into toasted buns, and slather them with the beer- and mustard-infused sauerkraut. On skewers, cheddar brats take shish kebabs from Middle Eastern to Central European. Alternate the brat cubes with red bell peppers, green bell peppers and onion chunks, and brush them with a basting sauce of blended apple cider and mustard.
Cheddar bratwurst's frequent German partners -- beer, mustard, onions and seasonings such as caraway -- also team well in soups. Cheddar soups, a comfort food in the cooler months, get even more hearty when at least some of the cheese comes in the form of a hearty pork-cheddar sausage. Chunks of the cheddar brats get browned with garlic and onions, along with aromatics, like caraway seeds, sage and marjoram. This base then cooks in a broth of chicken stock and beer, which thickens through slow reduction. Cream whirled with mustard is the final touch before the soup comes off the heat, but you can also add an extra handful of shredded cheddar.
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- The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Volume 1; Andrew Smith and Bruce Kraig
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