I bet you guessed I would pick bratwurst for B. No doubt about it, Wisconsin is famous for its brats. So what makes a bratwurst different from other sausages in a bun, say, a hot dog? Bratwursts are highly seasoned and made of pork or a mixture of pork and veal. You can buy them fresh (uncooked), pre-cooked, or smoked. As a Wisconsin resident, I’m always amazed at how many people who live here worship that national-brand-that-shall-not-be-named. They are fine in a pinch but when you can walk over to your local butcher and get handmade artisan bratwurst, why settle for the mass produced kind? If you don’t live in Wisconsin and want to try some genuine Wisconsin brats that are made with love and care, you can have them shipped to your door from Wisconsinmade.com. Yes, it will cost you more than the grocery store brand, but it’s worth it for a special occasion like Father’s Day, Labor Day or Independence Day.
Bavaria Sausage Kitchen in Madison, Wisconsin claims they introduced the bratwurst to Wisconsin. When you taste the authentic German spices in their expertly made bratwurst, you will probably believe it. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can chow down on some of Glenn’s Bratwurst. They come in creative flavors like mushroom Swiss, apple, and even cherry. And remember the applewood smoked meats specialist at Nueske that I mentioned in my letter A post? They make a fine bratwurst as well.
Being home to Bavaria Sausage Kitchen isn’t Madison’s only bratwurst claim to fame. Madison is also the headquarters of the World’s Largest Brat Fest. Every year brat lovers swarm to the city and attempt to break the record of the number of bratwurst consumed in a weekend. In 2012, bad weather put a dent in the record breaking, but we’ve got our eatin’ pants ready so we can try again in 2013.
- Buy quality bratwurst. The-national-brand-that-shall-not-be-named is fine, but handcrafted Wisconsin brats, like the ones from Bavaria Sausage Kitchen, Glenn’s Market, or handmade buy your local butcher are always best.
- Simmer bratwursts in beer and onions before grilling. Don’t let the beer reach a boil because all that jostling around might cause your brats to burst. For some detailed instructions on the finer points of grilling sausage, check out this post on the Serious Eats blog.
- Everyone enjoys different bratwurst toppings, but I discourage ketchup on brats. The sweetness of the ketchup over powers the flavor of the meat, while toppings like mustard and sauerkraut enhance it.
- For everything you ever wanted to know about bratwursts and more, visit the Bratwurst Pages.