Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

How To Make Bratwurst - Part I

Bratwurst, Dangerous Kitchen Experiments, Fresh Sausage

From Wikipedia - the name is derived from Old High German Brätwurst, from brät-, which is finely chopped meat and wurst, or sausage. Though the brat in bratwurst described the way the sausages are made, nowadays Germans associate it with the German verb “braten”, which means to pan fry or roast.  Bratwurst is usually grilled or pan fried, and sometimes cooked in broth or beer.

It has been an exceedingly long time since Smokey Joe and Braumeister and I have made sausage.

Too long.

This past Saturday my up-north neighbor -  Marine Corps Bill - and I drove down to Green Bay for a woodland owners conference.  The night before I pulled four giant packages of pork butt (.98 a lb. from Cermak Fresh Market) that had been thawing in the beer fridge for five days and set them out in the garage to finish thawing.

The Girls were quite smitten with all this meat laying-about and could tell something was up.


My plan was to make some fresh brats and get my groove back.  You know - the wurstmacher groove.  Afterwards I might confidently make some additional fresh and cured sausage using my own recipes.  And eventually both fresh and cured sausage with my precious pheasant, venison and bear.  After a couple of hours of feeding the grinder Jill would tell you this is a learning curve.

Begin by deboning your pork butts.  This is a snap if your meat is still partially frozen.  Partially frozen meat also grinds more easily and your sausage mix stays colder, longer.  

There's plenty of fat on this cut of pork so there's no need to add any additional.  As a matter of fact I trimmed a couple of pounds of fat, setting it aside for shrink-wrapping and freezing in anticipation of making fresh venison sausage.  The blonde Lab was ever vigilant and hopeful for eight pounds of pork butt to hit the floor.

First of three grinds - with my blonde companion monitoring every step of the process.  There is always a million-to-one shot that an entire tub of grinds might fall to the floor.  I used my coarse grinding plate for the entire project.


In the mean time salted hog casings (from Fleet Farm) were set to soak in warm water.

Soak for thirty minutes minimum - preferably an hour - and rinse through and through.

Mix your spices with a couple of bottles of whatever beer you have handy.  In this case it is the beer I've been sipping  - a refreshing Red Stripe lager.

Following processing of the pork a second time through the grinder - add your slurry of seasoning mix to the tub of grinds and mix, mix, mix. 


Get your hands in there and thoroughly distribute the spice throughout the entire tub of meat.  Return the tub to the fridge in the garage and allow to chill.

Incidentally - For ease of use (and because this was an initial trial run) I used a commercial seasoning mix I picked-up from Haught Distributing...

Hat tip to rottieguy for the lead on Cermak Fresh Market and Haught Distributing.  Cermak is an oasis of cooking raw materials.  Lots of ethnic specialties are to be found at this grocery.

Haught looks like a bomb loaded with slicers and grinders exploded.  Nevertheless, they know their stuff and love to talk sausage-making.  Plenty of good advice dispensed for free.  This is a great place to find spices along with smoking and sausage making supplies and equipment.  A chocolate Lab also has the run of the joint.  I'm going back soon.

How to Make Bratwurst - Part II is on deck.

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