The best way to cook bratwurst isn’t the usual direct grilling. It’s smoking. Smoke-roasting gives you terrific flavor (think bratwurst meets “hot guts”—Texas smoked beef sausage) with zero—I repeat zero—loss of juiciness. If you do it right, you’ll get a smoke ring, and best of all, you’ll eliminate the risk of a grill fire.
Step 1: Set up your smoker following the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat to 275° to 300°F. (This is a little hotter than the low-and-slow method, but the heat helps crisp the sausage casings.) Add the wood as specified by the manufacturer.
Step 2: Lightly brush the sausage casings on all sides with olive oil. Arrange them on the rack in the smoker. Smoke the brats until the casings are bronzed with smoke and the meat is cooked through (the juices will bubble under the casing), 30 to 45 minutes. Another test: Insert the probe of an instant-read thermometer through one end of the sausage, toward the center. The internal temperature should be at least 160°F.
Step 3: Transfer the smoke-roasted brats to buns, or arrange on a platter. Serve with your choice of toppings.
Use the same technique for smoke-roasting any fresh sausage, such as Italian or chorizo.