Why are german
bratwurst so special?
A while ago I was emailed a question:
"Why are German bratwurst so special?"
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
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 skins.
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. Not
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 heavens!
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
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!
So perhaps 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
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