My little adventure with bratwurst reached its pinnacle after a tortuous three hour process of grinding, mixing, stuffing, poaching, and charcoal grilling. What I faced, fortunately, looked a lot like the bratwurst of my wildest fantasies. It was perfectly plump, gushing with juice, and absolutely haunted by charcoal smoke. I stuffed that sausage into a huge roll and piled it high with sauerkraut and grainy mustard. The meat was layered with spices like nutmeg and ginger, and had a major snap from the hog casings. My homemade bratwurst had worked.
Which isn't to say that the road to here had been easy. Last post I didn't have a clue where to start. My problem was that I didn't know there were so many styles of bratwurst out there. Finding any kind of "perfect recipe" was nearly impossible. But I did narrow my search, after realizing that the style that I was salivating over was Wisconsin-Style Bratwurst. The German style is richer and, from what I can tell, emulsified. The Wisconsin-Style is chunkier, and features no eggs or cream.
But I still didn't have a recipe. For help I questioned Mr. Hot Doug himself, and finally asked all of you for help. I received it in droves. In fact, I was intimidated by how much information I got. While trying to sort through the half dozen or so bratwurst recipes the number of suggested ingredients called for started to balloon to over 40. So I did what any normal person would do and created an Excel spreadsheet with the dozen recipes and every single ingredient. I sorted through the info, eliminating all ingredients that were only mentioned once, and finally came up with a kind of mathematical equation for what should go into a bratwurst. It was made with pork, pork fat, and a plethora of spices including nutmeg, ginger, coriander, and marjoram.
What I was left with looked an awful lot like the recipe that commenter P.M. left for me. Upon rereading the comment P.M. claimed he was a commercial sausage marker, and has "set up many people with formulas and procedures for making it commercially." Thank you, thank you, thank you. The only problem? Since he is a commercial sausage maker, the recipe was for a 100 pound batch! I was making a 5 pound one. So, first order of business was converting his mammoth recipe into ounces, which I did with a calculator and some handy Google converter program. That left some ingredients with insane measurments like 0.0025 ounces. So I decided to attempt to convert the ounces by weight into tablespoons and teaspoons by volume. Luckily, Michael Ruhlman listed many of his measurement in his Charcuterie book in both weight and volume.
Finally, I had recipe. But then I had to face the hassle of actually stuffing.