Brats in Beer
Some tailgaters grill their brats and serve 'em up right away in buns. This method gives you a crisp skin and lets you choose your favourite toppings, as you would with a hot dog.
I prefer to grill the brats, then let them stew in a mixture of beer, bell pepper, onion and sauerkraut. The beer softens the grilled skin a bit, but the brats stay moist and get a more complex flavour from the stew.
More importantly, you can let the brats sit in the pan on the grill for hours in case you happen to get a little too stewed yourself to keep watch over them. If you're at Soldier Field for a Chicago Bears home game or at Lambeau Field for a Packers game, you'll fit right in with these brats on the grill.
2 1/2 pounds of your favourite bratwurst (about 10 links)
2 cups sauerkraut, drained
1 bottle or can (12 ounces) beer
1 green bell pepper, cut into short strips
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup butter or oil, optional
1/2 cup coarse German mustard
10 crusty sausage or steak rolls
When you get there: Heat grill to medium and let rack get good and hot, about 10 minutes. Brush and oil rack, then grill brats until nicely browned all over, turning now and then, about 15 to 20 minutes total. Put brats in a large disposable aluminum pan directly on grill. Mix in kraut, beer, bell pepper, onion and butter or oil, if using. Grill in pan, mixing occasionally, for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 hours (for a charcoal grill, add fresh coals every hour or so). Serve on rolls with a steaming slew of kraut, peppers and onions and a thick band of mustard.
Makes 10 brats.
Neighbourly tips: Brat (pronounced BRAHT) is short for bratwurst, a type of German sausage that's usually made from coarsely ground pork (and sometimes veal) that's seasoned with salt, pepper and a mix of "sweet" spices like nutmeg.
If you have a German-American butcher in your area, go there for fresh brats. Or pick up a brand-name bratwurst such as Johnsonville from the sausage section of your grocery store. If you're feeling health-conscious, look for reduced-fat turkey bratwurst.
I like crusty, untoasted rolls for bratwurst. The outside of the roll gives you good crunch and the soft interior soaks up all the stewy juices from the brats. But if you're using generic pillowy hot dog buns, toast them first (on the grill) to crisp them up. That will help keep the buns from turning to mush under the brats and stew juices.
If you like your brats with a crisp skin but still want the stewed flavour, reverse the cooking process in this recipe. Stew the brats in the pan with the other ingredients first; then, when you're ready, toss them on the grill until the skins are browned all over and the brats are cooked through.
Try this recipe with a mix of sausages like knackwurst, kielbasa, and mild or hot Italian sausage.
Packer-supporting company cuts all kinds of cheese
Love 'em or hate 'em, you have to admit: Those foam cheesehead hats on Green Bay Packers fans make a unique fashion statement. Here's a little trivia about the Wisconsin chapeau.
-According to newspaper accounts, cheesehead inventor Ralph Bruno was struck with a flash of inspiration in 1987 when he removed a foam cushion from his mother's couch, which was being reupholstered. He cut it into a cheese-shaped wedge, spray-painted it, and stuck it on his head. The hat world was never the same.
-In 1995, as the single-engine Cessna airplane he was riding in tumbled toward the ground, Frank Emmert covered his face with his cheesehead hat. Though badly banged up, Frank made it through the crash without head trauma, attesting to the power of cheeseheads.
-The company that makes the cheeseheads, Foamation, Inc., also makes headwear in the shape of a cheese-coloured top hat and fire helmet. For the true fan, the company offers cheese-shaped soap-on-a-rope, car-antenna toppers, rearview-mirror dice, and drink coasters.
Hero, hoagie, grinder, submarine, po' boy … it seems every region of the United States .S.A. has its own name for a sandwich served on a long roll. Here's a classic Italian combination that's perfect for a big table spread. You can assemble it ahead so all you have to do when you get there is slice and serve. Be sure to use good-quality bread. A hero is only as good as its ingredients.
2 loaves Italian or French bread, each about 1 pound
12 ounces sliced provolone cheese
1 pound thinly sliced smoked ham
3/4 pound thinly sliced Genoa salami
12 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, preferably Parma
1 jar (12 ounces) roasted red peppers, drained
1/2 cup red wine vinaigrette Red Wine Vinaigrette (page 000) or your favourite salad dressing
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups shredded lettuce
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
Before You Go:
The morning of the tailgate, slice bread lengthwise and open up like a book. Brush bottom halves of bread with vinaigrette. Layer half of the provolone over bottom half of both sandwiches (save the other half of provolone).
Layer on the ham, salami, prosciutto, roasted peppers, lettuce, tomatoes and oregano (fold the sliced meats to build volume into the sandwich). Top with other half of provolone. Put on bread tops and wrap in wax paper, foil, or plastic. Chill in refrigerator or cooler. Bring along remaining vinaigrette.
When You Get There: Remove sandwiches from cooler 20 minutes before serving. Open tops of sandwiches, lift up cheese, and drizzle remaining vinaigrette over each sandwich. Put cheese and tops back on, slice on a diagonal and serve.
Neighbourly Tip: To save time, pick up everything already prepared at the supermarket - shredded lettuce and sliced (or chopped) tomatoes from the salad bar; sliced meats and cheese from the deli counter; bread from the bakery section, and roasted peppers from the Italian section or vegetable aisle. You could even pick up some bottled red wine vinaigrette to save more time.
Substitute your favourite meats and cheeses. That's the beauty of subs: you get to personalize them with your special stack of ingredients.
Adapted with permission from The Tailgater's Cookbook by David Joachim, available at www.davejoachim.com.