Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 30 hrs
Yield: Feeds 4-6 people
2 packages of uncooked bratwurst
It's Not a Party Until the Bratwurst Comes Out
So there I was. It was a gorgeous summer day. I had spent the morning doing yard work. This was a work day, not a grill and play day. However, my work for the day consisted of taking my old weber kettle which I had retired and giving it a new life as a fire pit. After just about bottoming out my car at the hardware store buying bricks, the project came to life with ease. Now there was no kettle rotting away behind the trees in my yard, we had a real fire pit in the yard, and not only did it represent my love of BBQ, but it looked pretty damn good too.
After the work was done, I realized that this was the kind of summer day which a nice bratwurst made sense. I figured the work was done and this was a quick cook, I would be a fool not to fire up the grill!
Now I have had my share of brats. From spending nights in the upper deck at the old County Stadium in Milwaukee eating brats and kinda watching the Brewers to the occasional family pilgrimage to Kenosha's famous Brat Stop. I have also cooked a lot of brats. I've grilled the. I've boiled them in beer. You name it, I've done it...with the exception of smoking them. Well, until today.
Up until this point, I had really only considered BBQ to be a massive undertaking. Hours with the kettle slowly smoking something. Today I was going back to my old standard, with what I hoped was more skill. With a couple packs of uncooked bratwurst in hand, it was time to fire up the cooker.
I approached this no different than any BBQ cook. Get her to 250, add wood and start the cook. For this, I used apple wood. As the kettle was heating up and cut up some potatoes and broccoli to throw in the cast iron skillet.
Soon everything was ready. I put the cast iron directly over the coals while I lined up the pale looking brats on the indirect side. The smell of the apple smoke on this hot day was absolutely intoxicating. Well, maybe that was the ice cold High Life. Either way, this was turning out to be the perfect summer day.
Soon the brats had turned to a beautiful golden brown color. After about a half hour, they were ready. For good measure, I figured I would put them on direct heat for a minute just to get the nice grill marks on them. The potatoes still needed a little time so I left them on the grill while I brought the brats in and let them rest a minute.
Brats are really not much different than hot dogs. Hot dogs can be served a thousand different ways, but if you are from Chicago there is really only one way which is right. If you have spent time in Milwaukee, there is really only one way to serve a brat: Ketchup, mustard, optional grilled onions and all topped with a generous portion sour kraut. While I love the traditional, I also love a brat smothered in extra-sharp cheddar cheese. So today I made some of both.
I will say these were certainly among the best brats I have ever had. They were different. The flavor of the beer boiling was replaced with the apple smoke. The end result was amazing. I cannot completely say it was better than the beer broiled variant, but the smokey flavor certainly holds it own.
For me, this is the fun part. I have grilled brats a hundred different ways. I have grilled pre-smoked brats. Most recently I have been buying brats with added flavor as I couldn't cook them in a way that added flavor. But now, my cook is defining the flavor. I started with a plain, pale brat. I ended up with a brat that will rival some of the most revered brats there are. The flavor, that was 100% me. That is pretty damn cool when you think about it. Sure this was a short easy cook. But no one said good food has to take all day. This truly was the perfect cook for the perfect summer day!
Place bratwursts on the indirect side of the cooker.
Let cook while maintaining a cooker temperature of 250 degrees.
Cook until the brats turn a golden brown in color.
Move brats directly over the charcoal and sear them for 1 minute on each side.
Remove from grill and let rest for 10 minutes.