If you don’t know what bratwurst is, please just stop whatever you’re doing and read this. If you’re a German, you should sit this one out.
Bratwurst, also referred to as brat is a fresh type of German sausage that has a long and enduring history as a favorite sausage for backyard gatherings and football tailgates. The name itself comes from the German word brat which comes from brato that means chopped meat and wurst which means sausage.
They are made with coarsely chopped pork and veal, but beef can also be used. However, in some places, emulsified meat is preferred and used as opposed to coarsely chopped meat.
They are seasoned with variety of things with different flavors such as caraway seeds, marjoram, celery, onion (species used depends on the region) coriander, ginger or nutmeg and sometimes even sage. All this leads to a different taste in this type of sausage when compared to other sausages which varies from mild to spicy. For example, bratwurst tastes so different from Italian sausages where the latter has much sweeter flavor due to the anise and fennel.
Other factors affecting its taste are the region where it comes from or the way it was cooked, such as frying it with fat or grilling it over wood fire.
The seasoned meat is then stuffed into hog or sheep castings and then cooked and consumed or frozen. That’s what most traditional bratwurst sausages undergo, but a number of commercially sold bratwursts may come pre-cooked to keep it from spoiling.
Pre-cooked bratwurst has a pale brown color while fresh bratwurst has a bright pink color before being cooked.
Most of the times, bratwurst is paired with sauerkraut, roasted onions or potato salad and is usually sauteed, broiled or even grilled. In Germany, it’s served as a snack and also with a white wheat bread roll. It can also be served in a bun or with rolls and usually accompanied by sweet or hot German mustard or hot French mustard and some other condiments used for hotdog sandwiches.
If you’re planning to make some homemade bratwursts, check out this video: How to Make Bratwurst Sausages – Video Recipe
Where does Bratwurst comes from?
Its origin is claimed by both the state of Thuringia as well as Franconia, Nuremberg city in German. Earlier accounts of the sausage dates back to 1313 in Franconia and was developed as a result of Celtic influences.
Nowadays, there are more than 40 different varieties of bratwurst in different regions of Germany and around the world. More than 84 million people in the U.S consume fresh bratwurst in 2018.
Do you know there’s a national Bratwurst day on August 16 annually? In the US, this usually happens in areas like Sheboygan, Wisconsin, which is informally known as Bratwurst Capital of the World because of the city and the county’s very strong German roots and connections to bratwurst.
The city of Madison, Wisconsin also holds an annual festival billed as the World’s largest Brat Fest.
Major Types of German Bratwurst
There are many varieties if bratwursts but the following are just a few of the most known types:
- Coburger Bratwurst – This is a bratwurst that’s made from veal or beef of minimum 15% and is seasoned with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and lemon zest. It has a coarse texture and is about 10 inches in length. They are grilled over pinecones and served in a bread roll. Originally, they come from Coburg city in Bavaria.
- Frankische Bratwurst – These are thick, coarse and are about 4-8 inches. They are originally from Franconian (Franken) region in Bavaria and are traditionally served with Sauerkraut or potato salad, but with no mustard.
- Nuernberger Rostbratwurst – This small and thin bratwurst are about 3-4 inches and originate from the city of Nurnberg. Traditionally, they are served in sets of 6 or 12 depending on you together with horseradish and sauerkraut or potato salad.
- Nordhessiche Bratwurst – They are made from coarsely ground pork and is about 8 inches tall. They are heavily seasoned and are traditionally cooked over a wood fire grill and served on a cut-open roll with mustard.
- Thüringen Rostbratwurst – Thüringen Rostbratwurst has an almost similar taste to Nordhessiche Bratwurst. They are a spicy sausage from Thüringen and is about 6-8 inches in length. These thin bratwursts are traditionally grilled over a wood fire and eaten with mustard and bread.
- Rote Wurst – These spicy Swabian favorites are a bit similar to the Bockwurst and is made from finely ground pork and bacon. During grilling, an X is cut into its ends to prevent splitting. This leads to the ends opening during grilling but the rest of the sausage remains intact.