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I’m sitting here watching 5 college football games on ESPN360.com (I love technology) and I’m noticing that each game has commercial bumps featuring tailgaters and almost all of them are cooking brats.
But how did a German food become one of the main menu items for one of America’s favorite pastimes?
Brats: A Tailgating Favorite
I can’t find the answer to that, but I did find the answer to where bratwurst came from.
According to the folks that run the long-running Bratwurst Festival in Bucyrus, Ohio the brat has its origin in the Thuringia region of Germany where it is known as Thüringer Rostbratwurst. (Say that 5 times fast!)
The name is a combination of two Old High German words:
- brat – meaning "fine, chopped meat"
- wurst – meaning "sausage"
Best Way To Cook Brats
Considering the season, and the games I’m watching, I thought I’d write about my favorite way to cook brats at a tailgate.
I use a brat bath since it helps with a couple of tailgate challenges. And I like to use dark beers since I love the flavor. Which is an important point: don’t cook with a beer you wouldn’t drink.
As for those challenges…
For one, tailgates aren’t a dinner party. People don’t all show up at the same time and you don’t get to serve on a schedule. So the brat bath serves the same purpose as a warming drawer at home. It keeps the food warm and ready for whenever your tailgate guests arrive.
The other benefit is it gives the meat lots of time to absorb all of the flavors in the bath which makes them even better.
So here you go. Even if you don’t make it to a game, try this at home on the grill and invite folks over. Trust me, they’ll be asking to come back!
Beer Brats Recipe
4 cans/bottles dark beer (brown ales, bocks, and porters, etc.)
½ stick butter
1 large onion, sliced
1 package bratwurst
Preheat grill to medium-high.
Place an aluminum foil baking pan on the grill and add the first 3 ingredients. Just as the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to low to simmer.
Meanwhile, grill the bratwurst over low-medium heat until cooked through.
Transfer brats into beer mixture and let simmer for 15-20 minutes before serving. The mixture can also be used as a holding tray for the brats to keep them warm for any stragglers.
I’ve been in the food industry for years. Grilling and tailgating are my specialties. I’m also addicted to watching food shows on TV.