Recipe: Grilled Bratwurst – Elden Nelson Style
I’m tempted to say that we have a guest blogger today, but that wouldn’t strictly be true. I guess we have a guest instructor. I’m still the blogger and the cook, but I’m taking directions from my close personal virtual friend, Elden Nelson AKA “The Fat Cyclist.”
Fatty is a world-renowned blogger, author, Ironman, and Livestrong fund-raiser. He created the 100 Miles of Nowhere, a well-known fund-raising/cycling event which is the prototype for the 100 Miles to Nowhere: Dobson Ranch Edition (we put the fun in fund-raising). The 100MoN and 100MtN have many things in common; they both raise money to fight cancer or support those fighting cancer, they’re both cycling events, and they both feature grilled brats at the end.
Fatty prides himself on many things (cycling prowess, running skillz, ability to eat mass quantities of donuts, etc.) and he’s not shy about blogging about any one of them. One thing he has always
bragged blogged about is his brat-grilling super power, but most of his posts on the subject have been long on the talk and short on the details. That is, until he posted step by step instructions on how to cook brats. As soon as I read this post, I knew I had to give it a try, Fatty-style.
Phase I, the boiling phase, went very easily. Soon enough the entire house smelled of boiling beer, onions, and Worcestershire sauce, or just like a college-area dive bar at 9am. Kathleen was not amused. By 10:30, phase 1 was complete and the container of brats was in the refrigerator all ready for phase II, the grilling, later in the afternoon.
I normally do my grilling on a propane grill, but Fatty was pretty clear that to really do the job right I needed to use a charcoal or wood fire. So, I fired up the smoker and used it as a regular grill. Since phase I of the process actually cooks the brats, all you need in phase II is a hot fire and a short time getting a good scorch on them. This reduces the amount of time spent in front of a hot fire, a good thing. It only took about 10 minutes of grill time to get the whole batch done to perfection.
Phase III, the eating, was done so quickly that I don’t have any pictures of it except for the center one, above. There you can see my (first) personal brat fully assembled and ready for eating. Brat condiments are, like religion, politics, and sexual orientation, an emotionally charged and very personal subject and I’m not about to tell you what yours should be. Mine include brown mustard, sauerkraut, and pickled jalapeno slices on a toasted bun. You could probably leave the brat completely out of that equation and I’d still eat the sandwich, but it’s definitely better with the bratwurst.
Rating: I have to give Fatty a 5 on this method for a couple of reasons. First and foremost of course, taste. Perhaps it’s hard to make brats taste terrible, but it’s easy to make them not-very-good. If you over-grill them, you get dried-out, hard-to-chew, not-very-good brats. Fatty’s boil-ahead-then-just-sear-and-eat method produces perfect brats every time. The only change Kathleen would make to the procedure is to specify that phase I take place outside, so your house doesn’t smell like a dive bar, but your mileage may vary here.