Grill them, bake them, braise them -- no matter how you cook bratwursts, you're in for a flavorful treat. These sausages that originated in Austria and Germany have a snappy outside and juicy, well-seasoned interior that lends itself equally well to serving on a bed of sauerkraut and potatoes or on a toasted roll.
To minimize the chances of food poisoning, follow safe handling procedures while preparing raw pork bratwursts. Cook the sausages until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Don't guess -- measure it with a thermometer.
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The trick to perfectly grilled brats is to balance the need for cooking the sausage through with the desire for a perfectly golden, crispy exterior. In the Midwest, the classic method for achieving that balance is to gently simmer the brats in at least 2 inches of beer, wine or stock and some sliced onions for six to eight minutes. Heat the grill up to medium, drain the brats and lightly oil the grates before grilling the sausages for two to three minutes per side.
Grilling expert Steven Raichlen says you can achieve good results without the parboiling. Grill the sausages over direct medium heat, turning them occasionally for approximately 16 to 24 minutes, or until the outside is crisp and browned.
Slow Cooker Bratwurst
Although it's not necessary, browning the bratwurst before adding it to the slow cooker helps give it an attractive color and deeper flavor. Add the brats to the slow cooker, along with flavorful ingredients such as diced bell pepper, onion and frozen corn. Alternatively, top the links with drained sauerkraut, chopped onion and diced apples.
Cover the slow cooker and cook the sausages on low for four to eight hours, depending on whether you've browned them first. Serve the brats on buns topped with sauerkraut, or spoon the contents of the cooker onto a plate.
When you're short on time and don't feel like firing up the grill, use a large, heavy-bottomed skillet for your brats. Add a drizzle of oil or cooking spray to the skillet and heat it over medium-high heat. Add the raw pork bratwurst and cook the links for approximately five minutes, or until the outsides are browned. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add 1/2 cup of liquid such as water, broth, wine, beer or juice. Cover the skillet and simmer the brats for approximately 12 to 15 minutes.
Baking the Bratwurst
Another easy method for cooking raw bratwurst sausages, is to toss them in a Dutch oven and bake them with potatoes, sauerkraut, chopped onion and beer. Start by baking the brats in a greased, uncovered Dutch oven for 15 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the potatoes, onion and sauerkraut into the pot, pour the beer over the top, and bake the mixture covered for 45 minutes. Finish the meal off by baking it for another 15 minutes uncovered, after which most of the beer should have evaporated.
If you're baking brats for a crowd use a larger pot to double or triple the volume without having to adjust the timing.