How Do You Turn This…
Simple. It’s all explained in this great video:
It’s October, the leaves are starting to change, the temperature is getting cooler, and you are starting to think about two things: beer & bratwurst. At least that’s what I am thinking about. So I figured that it was no coincidence that in the past month I was asked twice to make brats. What exactly are brats? Let’s consult the experts on everything- Wikipedia. Actually, I just read the definition on Wikipedia and it made no sense. I hope a true bratwurst historian has some time to clean that up. Anyway, my definition is much more concise. A bratwurst is a sausage that usually has not only pork and fat back, but also veal. In addition, it is emulsified with more fat (cream and eggs) and heavily seasoned with ginger, nutmeg, and white pepper.
We, the American people, believe that no Oktoberfest would be complete without the Bratwurst so why should you? I am here to tell you is that making sausage is easy. It might take a little more time, but I believe it is worth it. Why? Well, have you ever noticed that almost every sausage you get at the store tastes the same. That is because they are all the same. The difference with my Brats is grinding the nutmeg and dried ginger with a microplane just before using them. It enhances the spices, creating a well seasoned piece of cheap meat.
My first brat experience this month occurred when the good people over at Working Class Foodies, Rebecca and Max (who are award winning contestants at my Food Experiments) asked me to help out on their web tv show. They wanted to do an episode on making bratwurst. Little did they know I was a professional. It was a great experience that I do not need to write about because the video does such a good job. Check out some of their other videos at hungrynation.tv.
My second brat-portunity came when the Bell House asked me to cater their awesome Octoburlesk party. What better to add to semi naked ladies and a polka band then a grill filled with homemade brats? I will be up front with you. I did not realize how difficult it would be to make 30 pounds of brats in my tiny kitchen. It was a long and arduous. Two full days went into the prep. My hand went numb after trimming 30 pounds of pork butt and 10 pounds of fat back. I had Nick Suarez come over and help. Sadly, all he got to do was grind a shit load of spices.
So here’s how to get from a whole lotta meat to a whole lotta brats:
1. Cut the meat
2. Do not forget to find the glands and cut them out.
3. Dice and Grind
4. Emulsify with Cream and Eggs
5. Stuff, Stuff, and Stuff…This is 30 pounds people, this takes a while
Now we tie them, poach them in beer, and get them to the damn Bell House. Oops, I almost forgot. I must make a ton of curry aioli. I was thinking of the curry wurst idea, but I hate ketchup on my sausages, and so should you. So, instead I made the aioli, and it was frickin’ delicious. I made it spicy with roasted curry powder, turmeric, cumin, and a ton of raw and poached garlic. I wish I had pictures of it’s neon yellow deliciousness…
I had no idea what to expect at Octobulesk. Anywhere between 100 and 200 people were expected. That is a large gap. Plus, did people really want to eat my brats? Who was I? I was very worried on my way to the event trying to decide where I was going to keep all the extra brats. I kept imagining my vegetarian girlfriend looking in the freezer and seeing all her green peas and veggie burgers displaced, made refugees by my 30 pound tribe of brats.
I get to the Bell House and I see Nick’s friendly face. He didn’t seemed worried. Why should he? There was no spice grinder in sight. Super friendly GM William was nowhere to be seen. I was confused until I realized that he was putting on the super good looking lederhosen. Yet, somehow, when you combine October, Beer, and Brats, shorts with suspender don’t look so bad. Will wasn’t the only one…there was a polka band:
I started to relax once the sweet girlfriend arrived sporting the cute German girl braids. I find those braids so cute, why? I do not really like Germans, being jewish and all….
Nick and I calmly set up shop expecting a long night of slow grilling. We got our tongs and game faces together.
This is the last time we were still for the next hour and half. The crowd that lingered before we were ready turned into a deluge… I was beside myself with joy, everything was moving so fast. All I had time to do was look down and make brats “all the way” which means with curry aioli, sweet onion, and kraut. Thank god the reliable Nate came by to say hi. You might remember him from the Underground Restaurant. Well, Nate just put on a pair of rubber gloves and jumped right in, no questions asked. So Nick maned the grill, I took orders and transferred from grill to bun, Nate dressed them up, and girlfriend took the money (her specialty). She did not let one person pass unpaid for, she is tough for a veggie.
and going, and going, and going
We started with 125 brats, and 156 buns. I brought a spare pork belly, originally to share with the GM. I had invited him to the house last week and we had to cancel at the last minute. I felt terrible so I brought the belly for him to eat. It was a great idea, but for a different reason. We ended up selling all the pork belly as well. Sorry Will.
I was super excited that we sold out within an hour and fifteen minutes, but I felt like shit because there were people still on line. I never expected this outcome. The nicest thing I saw was the customers upfront ordering less so the ones left on line could still have some. There’s nothing more heartwarming than a crowd of sympathetic sausage lovers.