(Family Features) - We all seem to thrive on competition these days. Any channel surfer can find reality shows in which folks are trying to be the next survivor on a deserted island, rock star, celebrity chef or TV design guru. But nothing can beat the real life drama in your own backyard when brats vie for "top brat" awards.
First of all, choose the brat that consumers found to be the tastiest of all grillable meats in a recent taste test. Served hot and plump off the grill, alone on a bun or tortilla, this brat's robust flavor is more than delicious all by itself. But when you're in the mood to play with your food, top your brat with a favorite condiment, relish, salsa or slaw.
Top that juicy grilled brat with pickles and onions, mustard or ketchup. Go German with sauerkraut, Southern with a tangy barbecue topping, or even Hawaiian with pineapple and papaya. As long as you grill your brat so that it's plump and juicy, the topping you choose is only going to add style points. So, top that!
Check out johnsonville.com for great recipes and more!
Are You a Grillin' Guru?
You can be, by following Johnsonville's Tips for Grilling Success.
- Use a clean grill. Repeated grilling causes excessive residue buildup on the grill rack and hull. An occasional cleaning will help to reduce flare-ups. Besides, your grill is a special gathering place for friends and family. Got to keep up appearances.
- It's OK to pre-cook. Know that it's OK to pre-cook brats. One may simmer the links in a pan of broth, or a beer and onion blend, for 8 to10 minutes prior to placing them on the grill (it's okay to dump the beer when you're done ... really, it is).
- Cook slow, on low heat, keeping grill covered. If you're using a charcoal grill, spread out the gray/white, hot coals in a single layer. Your charcoal grill is perfect for brats if you can hold your palm near the grill for 5 to 6 seconds before it gets uncomfortable. On a gas grill, start the flame at a medium setting, and when the sausage juices start to flow, reduce heat to low. A lid on the grill helps to minimize the flame, too.
- Avoid high flames! First, move the brats to safety. Raging blazes cause injury to sausage and your neighbors probably won't enjoy the sirens. Keep a spray-bottle filled with water handy to douse small flames while grilling. A garden hose would be overkill.
- Turn the brats every five minutes or so. Use tongs, never a fork ... EVER! A fork can puncture a link and release that great taste and savory flavor. Tongs keep the links intact, and make 'em easier to turn.
Know when your brats are done cooking, which is:
- about 25 to 30 minutes using the above guidelines.
- when they're golden-brown and look appetizing, not charred to a crisp. "Burning" is not "grilling"!
- when a meat thermometer probe inserted into the link reads 160°F. (Of course, a Master Griller would never be seen doing this.)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon coarsely cracked black pepper
- 1 bottle (12 ounces) dark beer
- 4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
- 1 cup stone ground mustard
- In skillet, melt butter.
- Add garlic and sauté over low heat until tender. Add pepper and beer; bring to boil.
- Reduce heat and gradually add cheese; stirring until melted. Continue to cook and stir until mixture is reduced by 1/3.
- Remove from heat. Add mustard; stir until blended. Pour into storage container. Refrigerate until ready to serve as a condiment to grilled brats.
Yield: 2 cups.
Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Grilling suggestion: Blend 1 cup Gorgonzola mustard with 1/3 cup dark beer. Use as brushing or basting sauce for brat kabobs, whole brats or vegetables when grilling.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 cup barbecue sauce
- 1 cup prepared coleslaw dressing
- 1 package (16 ounces) cabbage slaw
- In skillet, heat oil. Sauté onion and garlic until translucent and slightly brown. Remove from heat, cool slightly.
- In small bowl, combine onion mixture with barbecue sauce and coleslaw dressing. Pour over cabbage slaw and toss lightly to coat.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve as topping with grilled brats.
Yield about 5 cups
- 1/2 cup cider or rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 3/4 cup diced papaya
- 1/2 cup diced sweet onion
- 1/2 cup diced mango
- 1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple tidbits, drained
- 1/2 cup diced sweet red roasted peppers, drained
- 2 green onions, finely sliced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 1/8 teaspoon Chinese 5 spices
- In small saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar and salt; bring to boil.
- Reduce heat, add garlic and pepper flakes; continue to simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature.
- In bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Pour vinegar mixture over fruit; toss lightly. Refrigerate until ready to serve as condiment to grilled brats.
Yield 3 cups
Choose from Tex-Mex, Swedish, Chinese, or Middle Eastern flavors
Basic Meatball Mixture
- 1 1/2 pounds ground meat or poultry, or any combination (ground beef, veal, pork, lamb, chicken or turkey)
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 9x13-inch baking sheet with non-stick spray or olive oil, or line pan with non-stick aluminum foil.
- In a mixing bowl, combine ground meat, onion, bread crumbs, milk, parsley, salt and pepper.
- Add the seasoning for the flavor of meatball you want.
- Form 48 meatballs from mixture and place on prepared baking sheet.
- Bake 15 minutes, or until meatballs reach 160°F (165°F if using ground poultry).
- If not serving immediately, keep warm in a 200°F oven or cool and refrigerate in shallow containers.
- Accompany the meatballs with dipping sauce listed for meatball variety.
- Tex-Mex Meatballs - Ground beef stands up to hearty flavors. Seasoning for meatball mixture: 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder and 1 teaspoon ground cumin. Dipping sauce: purchased chunky salsa or green tomatillo salsa.
- Swedish Meatballs - Ground turkey or chicken gives a delicate flavor. Seasoning for meatball mixture: 1 teaspoon ground allspice, 1 teaspoon sweet paprika and 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg. Dipping sauce: 1 cup sour cream, 1/3 cup milk, 2 tablespoons (half of a 1-ounce packet) dry onion soup mix, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon dried dill weed. Mix together at least an hour before serving.
- Chinese Meatballs - Get best flavor by using some ground pork. Seasoning for meatball mixture: 1/4 cup chopped almonds, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic, 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon ground ginger. Dipping sauce: purchased (10-ounce) jar sweet and sour sauce.
- Middle-Eastern Meatballs - Get best flavor by using ground lamb. Seasoning for meatball mixture: 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Sprinkle formed meatballs with 2 tablespoons sesame seeds; press into meat. Dipping sauce: 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 cup chopped green onions, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon sugar.