Friday, 28 June 2013

The Best of the Wurst

I have a confession to make.  I recently comitted a terrible crime against beer.  I left a bottle in my car for 8 hours while it was 24 degrees Celsius.  Why is this bad?  Beer exposed to light and heat goes through a process called "oxidation", which converts a pleasantly bitter and malty beer to a stale and "skunky" brew.

Braising.  The term means searing a cut of meat first at high temperatures, then cooking slowly in a variable amount of liquid.  This liquid can be anything from savory broths to fruit juices, and especially wine and beer.

There are limits however, to using substandard beer to cook with.  Never cook with a beer you wouldn't drink.  I tasted the beer before I braised with it - had I cooled it down it would have still been drinkable.  Had it been any more than a day in such warm conditions it would have been unusable.

The beer used was Wunderful Lager from Nördlingen, Germany.  Although the name is somewhat Westernized, the beer itself followed the Reinheitsgebot, the German purity law allowing only water, malt, and hops into the brew .  My partner-in-crime picked up a bottle of the a fruity Hefeweizen and a Pilsner from the same brand to drink with dinner, unaware that I had braised with beer from the same brand.

Paired with the brats is a chipotle beer mustard, graciously brought back from San Diego by a close friend.  If you are in the San Diego area, I recommend checking out at least one brewery or brewpub.  In particular, the Stone Brewing Company operates out of North County, and has a brewpub in both Escondido and Liberty Station.  While you're there, pick up a jar of mustard for yourself.  And one for me, in exchange for a meal and everlasting gratitude.

Beer-Braised Bratwurst

Beer-braised redemption

with Beer Mustard and Saurkraut

1 tbsp olive oil
8 Bratwurst sausages
355ml beer
8 sausage buns
1 14 oz. jar Sauerkraut
2 tbsp brown sugar
Beer Mustard

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, or turn a slow cooker on to high.
  2. Heat olive oil in a frying pan or skillet.  Puncture sausages with a fork.
  3. Add 4 of the sausages to the pan and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining 4 bratwurst.
  4. Transfer the bratwursts and any accumulated juices to a Dutch oven or slow cooker.  Pour in the beer.
  5. Braise the bratwursts, turning once, until they are completely cooked through, about 30 minutes.
  6. While the brats are braising, add sauerkraut and brown sugar to a medium saucepan.  Heat over medium-low temperature until sugar is dissolved and sauerkraut is heated through.
  7. Place a bratwurst in each bun and serve with sauerkraut and mustard.

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