Wisconsin Double BratsSteven Raichlen
No, they’re not obnoxious twins from Sheboygan. The double brat is the Badger State’s favorite sandwich and mandatory fare for tailgate parties or lakeside cookouts. The brats in question are bratwursts-coarsely ground, slightly sweet pork sausages-and come rain or shine (or snow or shine), the air in hundreds of towns across Wisconsin is filled with the heady scent of sausages sizzling over charcoal. The perfume is not complete without the piquant aroma of onion, the nostril-flaring pungency of dark mustard, and the brash tang of sauerkraut. Here’s what I call the basic brat recipe, followed up by the most widely accepted variations.
Wisconsin Double Brats
- Yield: Makes 4 sandwiches; serves 4 normal people or 2 Paul Bunyans
- Method: Direct Grilling
- 8 uncooked Johnsonville bratwursts
- 1 tablespoons vegetable oil (optional)
- 4 round semels, hard rolls, hearth rolls, or kaiser rolls
- 2 to 3 tablespoons butter, melted (optional)
- Dark, spicy, stone-ground German-style mustard
- 1 sweet onion, thinly sliced or finely chopped
- About 2 cups sauerkraut, drained (optional)
- About 1 cups dill pickle slices (optional)
Step 1: Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to medium-I repeat, medium. The key to grilling a highly flammable food like sausage is to use a moderate heat and grill slowly.
Step 2: When ready to cook, lightly brush each sausage on all sides with oil, if desired (this is not generally done in Wisconsin, but I find it gives you a crisper casing). Place the brats on the hot grate so that they are parallel to the bars (the bars will hold the sausages steady). Grill the brats until crisp and handsomely browned on the outside and cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes per side (16 to 24 minutes in all), turning with tongs. In the event that dripping sausage fat causes flare-ups, move the brats to another section of the grill. With time, you’ll learn to tell doneness simply by looking at the brat. Beginners can use an instant-read meat thermometer: Insert it in one end to the center of the sausage. The internal temperature should be about 170 degrees F.
Step 3: Meanwhile, lightly brush the inside of the rolls with butter, if using, and toast them briefly on the grill, 1 to 2 minutes per side. This is by no means mandatory-indeed, many brat fans prefer their rolls untoasted.
Step 4: To serve, slather the rolls with mustard. Place 2 brats on each roll. Top with onion and sauerkraut and/or pickles, if using.
Your brat sandwich will only be as good as the sausage on it. Most Wisconsinites swear by Johnsonville sausages. As for the roll, it should be bakery fresh, soft on the inside, and crusty on the outside. Kaiser rolls work well.