Friday, October 9, 2009

Celebrate German Heritage Recipe #3: Bratwurst

Okay, this isn’t really a “recipe” so much as it is a cheerleading session for some of our local and regional sausage makers, all of whom I strongly endorse.

By the way, the sausages I list are just the tip of the iceberg for all these producers. Visit their Web sites to see the complete bounty of offerings.

First, there’s Schubert’s Packing Co., in Millstadt, Illinois. I’m in love these days with their horseradish brats, which don’t blow your eyes out but do possess a lovely flavor of horseradish.

Like most of the local sausage makers, the folks at Schubert’s are really into the German styles. Just looking at their brats alone, other types include: beer, Cajun, cheddar, cherry, garlic, green onion, Hungarian kolbasz (also one of my favorites), maple, “regular,” Italian sasita, sauerkraut, and lots more.

Then, there’s Williams Brothers Meat Co., in Washington, Missouri. They make some really excellent fresh sausages, again, with an emphasis on European and German styles.

Their fresh sausages include these wursts: jalapeno brats, beer and onion brats, apple sausage, potato sausage, cherry sausage, Italian sausage, chorizo, Merquez (lamb sausage), Swiss and mushroom brats, weistwurst, and more.

Kurzweils’ Country Meats, more convenient to the western part of the state, is another place to get your sausages this fall. Among their offerings are cheddar brats, chilli cheese sausage, garlic pepper sausage, Italian and Polish sausages, jalapeno brats, smoked bratwurst, Swedish potato sausage, and tomato basil sausage. They’re the ones who had the brats flavored with portobello mushrooms sautéed in Missouri Norton red wine, which was possibly the best thing I’ve ever put into my mouth.

(I wish I had a photo of a package of Kurzweils' sausages, but we ate them all up!)

In Central Missouri, we have the Swiss Meat and Sausage Co., which is located in the tiny town of Swiss (not far south of Hermann).

Like many of the others, they will also make up sausage for you, using your own recipe—or, say, your great-grandpa’s recipe from way back when. They’re the company the Old Munichburg Association uses to make up the Hott & Asel–recipe sausage every year for fund-raising purposes.

And Swiss Meats also offers fresh sausages that will knock your socks off. How does this sound, for example: Swiss-style bratwurst, Munich-style sausage, Nuremberg-style bratwurst, smoked cheese brats, smoked cottage sausage, apple-cinnamon sausage, smoked sweet pepper and onion brats, pepper-jack brats, smoked beer and cheddar brats, chipotle brats, “flaming hot” brats, Hawaiian brats, butter parsley potato sausage, garlic butter brats, BBQ flavored brats, turkey and cranberry brats . . .

. . . As for how to cook these deliciously divine sausages, I’ll leave it to you. But I will gently recommend that the finer the sausage, the more you should be careful not to boil the frickin’ flavor out of them or to overwhelm their delicate subtleties with heavy-handed beer-braising.

For more on local sausage producers and their products, see my post on the Hermann Wurstfest, which is held every March.

To emphasize once again: The sausages I’ve listed for each producer aren’t at all exhaustive—I haven’t mentioned the summer sausages, jerky, liverwursts, blood sausages, and much, much more. There’s a lot of overlap, yet they’re always coming up with new brat flavors. Check their Web sites; give them a ring. They’re nice people!

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