Looking back I’ve noticed it’s been over a year since I’ve posted a new sausage recipe. Since it’s Oktoberfest time I thought this would be a good week to unveil my latest creation: homemade Onion Brats. I’m not breaking any new ground with this onion brat, as I’m sure it’s been done, but I’m impressed with the extreme flavor derived from just a couple of ingredients; pork, salt, shallots and parsley.
Germans have a lot of different kinds of sausage named bratwurst. Some are made of veal, some pork, some beef, combinations of pork and veal, all wholly dependent on what region of Germany you are in. Same here in the US it seems. The sausage I knew as bratwurst back home in the Mid-Hudson Valley came from Karl Ehmer’s meat market and was of the veal kind which gives you a white sausage. One of his stores was just across the parking lot from a warehouse job I had, which made for some great lunches. And yes, you could get one of his bratwurst for lunch.
Here in the Midwest it seems brats are more pork based and coarser ground, not as fine as the veal ones. It was odd at first, kind of like what people outside of NY think pizza and bagels are but the pork ones are just as good and way more conducive to grilling. Thinking about it, it makes sense the brats here are heavy on the pork as there was probably a lot more pork available than veal when those German immigrants were settling in Chicago and Milwaukee. I have no idea if this was actually the case at all but it sounds extremely plausible, doesn’t it? And since pork is still more readily available and cheaper than veal here I am making my brats in that fashion.
Back to my Oktoberfest Onion Brats. Actually there are no onions in them but Oktoberfest Shallot Brats just doesn’t sound as good. I’ve got to give props to my friend Chef Julius Russell on these. He’s the one who turned me on to using shallots in the place of onions for their flavor and sweetness as well as encouraging me to push the envelope on seasoning. Sometimes I hold back on herbs and spices because I don’t want to overdo things and as a result I sometimes lose flavors from not having enough. Not with these sausages though! These are the first sausages I really seasoned aggressively and I think it was a case of having to do it out of necessity since there are so few ingredients. That said, I now understand what he was saying, don’t be afraid to bring it. There’s definitely a time and place for pushing it and these brats turned out fantastically with such a sweet flavor due to the amount of shallots.
Oktoberfest Onion Brats (should yield 20 sausages at six inches long)
- 4 lbs pork shoulder diced
- 1 lb fat back diced
- 6 Tbs Shallots, minced
- 6 Tbs parsley, minced
- 40 gr kosher salt
- About 10 feet of hog casings
- 1 C ice water
Combine and mix the diced pork, fat, shallots and parsley. Chill until ready to grind or set in refrigerator and chill overnight.
Run water through the casings and let soak in a small bowl of water for 30 minutes or until you’re ready to stuff them.
Using the medium holed grind plate, grind the seasoned pork and fat into a mixing bowl set in ice.
When done grinding all of the meat, add the water and mix until it is absorbed and the pork gets “sticky.” If using a stand mixer it will take about 1 minute with the paddle attachment.
Make a small patty and cook to check the seasonings.
Stretch and push the hog casing onto the stuffer tube attachment, leaving an inch or two hanging off the end of the tube.
Stuff the sausage keeping one hand on the end of the tube where the casing is getting stuffed and help it along if it gets stuck.
Twist the sausage into 5-6 inch links.