german bratwurst so special?
A while ago I was emailed a
question: "Why are German bratwurst
Well Dave (from Didcot), now come
on, the words bratwurst and special
don't immediately in my mind
especially go together. I can't say
I even remember the last time I had
one as part of a meal or even a
take-away. Yes Ok I know they're
popular in Germany and the US...but
here in the UK? Not sure...
What is a BRATWURST then?
Basically , a sausage made from
pork, in a natural (or
synthetic...horrid things) case or
skin, that's grilled or pan fried.
So what's different about these than
our British banger or chipolata?
There's quite a few varieties and
shapes and sizes of bratwurst
available in Germany which
individual regions claim as their
own. Coburg have their "Coburger
Bratwurst" made from veal or beef,
with only salt , pepper, nutmeg and
lemon zest added. Traditionally
cooked over pine cones or so they
say. Whereas the Swabian region has
it's spicy "Rote Wurst" made from
finely ground pork and bacon. They
cut an X in to the ends when
grilling or frying. The ends open
during cooking, with the rest
remaining as is, thus giving it a
shape all of it's own. The
Wurzburger bratwurst is a variance
on the spicy Thuringer but theirs
with white wine added.
Ooo I'm getting interested in
"brats" the more I research....
The makings are evidently more often
than not minced very finely we're
told using a "bowl-cutter"
(sometimes known as a "bowl
chopper") to almost emulsify the
meat. Passing the mix through a very
fine mincing plate a couple or even
three times gets close to it but to
make them accurately, a bowl-cutter
is what's needed. The mix is then
loaded in to preferably natural
The "brats" would be normally
steamed (or pan simmered in water)
to cook them and then chilled ready
for use. Frying them off in a hot
pan or under/over a grill to give
them colour before serving. Some
recommend spraying them with water
or beer whilst they're grilling to
keep the skins cool. Cooking them by
grilling or pan frying, without
pre-cooking is a skill, as burning
the outside and the inside remaining
under cooked or raw is very likely.
OK, so I arranged some un-cooked
brats from our local sausage
specialist (The Churchgate Sausage
Company of Sheering, Essex). Yes
they're not German produce but these
will do to get started with an
opinion on bratwurst. As it happens,
we liked the "Churchgate Bratwurst"
from Herr Drage...mind you I suppose
we should have eaten them rather
than with mash and onions, but in a
bread roll with some German mustard
perhaps. Hey ho, next time. The
texture of the meat was fine/smooth
and the taste was definitely
different to a British sausage. More
like a frankfurter (or dare I say a
"saveloy"). Don't get us wrong,
there was nothing wrong with the
"foreign" sausage, but then again we
like what we like and no doubt other
nationalities like what they like!
I've read that in Nuremburg alone
the estimate is around 1 billion
brats being produced a year! Now add
the rest of Germany's production and
you've got a serious amount of
sausages being consumed! It appears
to be around 60 lbs of sausage
consumed per person per year in
Germany...and they have around 81
million citizens! This compared with
the UK's 63 million people and 7 lbs
of sausage per person per year! Good
I've also read that VW
factory in Wolfsburg have their own
butchery department within the
factory complex that produces LOADS
of sausage for the staff meals and
supplies some very local
supermarkets. Whether they only
produce their very popular "currywurst"
or do in fact produce bratwurst as
well, I may need to arrange a visit
to find out!
Audi in Bavaria, also
have their own butchery
department...pork/veal/milk weiswurst over there....
Now back to
the initial question...I still can't
see why German Bratwurst would be so
special. I prefer the Great British
Banger personally, but then that's
me! However I'm sure there's people
out there who would disagree...each
to their own of course!
the question should have been "Why
are German Bratwurst so popular"!
Answer: They taste good and 81
million Germans will no doubt be the
first to say so....
BTW: Did you
know that sausage production in
Germany, Austria and northern France
was effectively halted for a time
during WW1 (with sausage eating
banned) by the German authorities.
It appears that animals intestines
used as sausage skins became so
sought after during this time with
them being used in Zeppelins to hold
the hydrogen gas.