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Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

How To Make Bratwurst - Part II

Bratwurst, Dangerous Kitchen Experiments, Fresh Sausage

In my previous post I covered the first steps in making fresh bratwurst.  Now that the tub of seasoned meat has been thoroughly chilled and the hog casings soaked and rinsed it's time to assemble the wurst.

Begin by slipping your casings over the tube of the sausage stuffing tool. Sure, I know what some of you are thinking but I'm not going there.

A word about this stuffing device.  I burned a Cabela's gift card on this thinking that I could use it to stuff sausages and thereby save wear and tear on the electric motor of the more expensive grinder.

Guess what.  It is totally useless.  It doesn't work as advertised.  No amount of pushing, shoving, olive oil spray or brute force would push the sausage mix through the tube and into the casing.  (I returned it yesterday evening and Cabela's cheerfully refunded my money.  They are a customer-focused company for sure).

So I installed the sausage stuffer attachment to the grinder and used that instead.

On occasion something occurs that results in a stroke of genius.  This was one of those occasions.  I left a grinding plate and the knife in the bore of the grinder and when Jill fed the mix into the hopper it was treated to a third grind before it was extruded from the tube and into the casing.  The result was a finer-textured brat more reminiscent of the composition and character of a Weisswurst.  The resulting sausage was primo.

When filling your casings you want to avoid over-stuffing them.  Leave some room for twisting into links.  After the first casing was filled Jill and I settled into a smooth rhythm with nary a burst casing or under-filled wurst.  She fed the grinder and I handled the filling of the casing.  The blonde Lab supervised,

Tip:  When you are at the end of grinding or stuffing and you want to clear the barrel of the grinder of any meat mixture - throw a handful of ice cubes down the feeder and run them through the auger.  Not only will all the meat get pushed out (and not wasted) but any residual fat in your feed system will be conveniently frozen.  This cleans-up nicely with a paper towel when you disassemble the machine and keeps fat out of your septic system and dishwasher.

After all the bratwurst were made they were placed uncovered on trays and sent back to the garage fridge to set overnight and dry-out a bit.

Guess what we had for dinner?  I took some of the raggedy looking links and seared them in a pan and then gently simmered them in a can of Hamm's (from the land of sky blue waters) beer.  They plumped-up nicely and Jill declared them - professionally-made.  I have got to say these are some of the best of the wurst.  Nice snap from the natural casing, excellent texture and a real Sheboygan brat flavor. 

Hey!  Isn't allowing a dog in the kitchen unsanitary?  Aren't you playing fast and loose with food hygiene?

Good questions.  First of all the dogs live here - they're in the kitchen all the time.  They know stuff falls to the floor all the time too.  What have you got against dogs anyway?  They're clean.  They lick themselves constantly. Besides, there's no dog hair in my brats.

The following day I packaged them using the Foodsaver and froze them for long term storage.

Recipe yields 100 bratwurst.

Hat tip to rottieguy for the lead on Cermak Fresh Market and Haught Distributing.  Cermak is an oasis of cooking raw materials.  Lots of ethnic specialties are to be found at this grocery. 

Haught looks like a bomb loaded with slicers and grinders exploded.  Nevertheless, they know their stuff and love to talk sausage-making.  Plenty of good advice dispensed for free.  This is a great place to find spices along with smoking and sausage making supplies and equipment.  A chocolate Lab also has the run of the joint.  I'm going back soon.

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