Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Brat Coma

The worst part of losing to the Bears Monday night was my gluttonous performance in the kitchen. Wanting to do something special for such a big game (and get my children’s digestive tracks conditioned for our trip to Lambeau Field next weekend), I prepared an at-home, family tailgate party.  Naturally, I turned to the Holy Trinity of Wisconsin cuisine: cheese, beer and brats.  (Of course, I didn’t serve my kids the PBR.  They got Heileman’s Old Style® NAs instead.  What kind of parent do you think I am??)
The Holy Trinity of Wisconsin Cuisine

After a pre-game par-boiling (see below for secret family recipe), I fired up the grill and cracked a cold one.  Close your eyes and you would have thought we were on Lombardi Avenue.   Now, if you look at the Nutritional Information on the back panel of a package of Johnsonville® Brats (something I don’t recommend doing, by the way), you’ll see very clearly that the serving size is “1 grilled link.”  But one just didn’t seem like enough, particularly after the Bears pulled to 10-7 with a touchdown right before the half.  So, in a perverse fit of superstition, I opted to take down brat #2 – or what I referred to at the time as “my lucky brat.”

You’d think after years of testing this theory that I would know that my personal brat consumption has no bearing on the outcome of a Packer game.  And my lucky brat – I even considered giving him a German name, like Dieter or something – wasn’t lucky enough to pull out the win last night.  The reality is I would have eaten the same amount of food regardless of the outcome of the game.  Somehow though when you gorge yourself during a win it feels like celebrating, but when you do it during a loss it just feels like gluttony.

After watching Robbie Gould’s game-winning field goal sail through the uprights I started cursing Dieter the Lucky Brat.  Do you know how many fat grams are in a brat!?!?  22g or 34% of your recommended daily allowance.  If the Packers don’t get back to their winning ways, I could put on some serious LBs.  Maybe I could switch to something lighter, like Brat Crustini.

As I pondered how this loss was possible (besides the penalty bonanza), I suddenly had a horrifying realization.  Many of these venerable foods were no longer from Wisconsin.  Pabst Brewing Company, despite marketing itself under such wholesome Wisconsin brands as Old Style®, Old Milwaukee® and Pabst Blue Ribbon®, is actually based in San Antonio, Texas... Texas!!!  But it gets worse.  Kaukana® Cheese is owned by Bel Brands USA a subsidiary of a French company based in ELK GROVE VILLAGE, ILLINOIS!!!  Not only do they own Kaukana, but they own Merkts® cheese (my personal favorite) and WisPride® too!  If that’s not false advertising, I don’t know what is!  WisPride… what about being owned by an Illinois company would make a Wisconsinite proud!?!?   No wonder these foods have lost their good luck power.  They’ve been co-opted by FIBs.  Even though the lucky brat didn’t come through for me, at least Johnsonville is still in Sheboygan Falls.  And here's how to cook them the right way.

Trigg’s Brat Recipe

Par-boiling Johnsonville's
This is a family recipe, passed down to me by my dad who, though he grew up in Michigan, has lived his adult life in Wisconsin and cooks a mean brat.  The first question of any brat connoisseur is whether or not to par-boil.  I’m a par-boiler.  Reasonable minds can disagree about par-boiling.  It’s just that the non par-boilers are wrong.


  • One 5-pack of Johnsonville Brats… per person
  • Two 12-oz cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon (or a Miller®, Point® or Leinenkugels® if you want to keep it pure Wisconsin)
  • One medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 8 hot dog buns (because the conspiracy between the brat guys and bun guys forces you to buy superfluous buns)
  • High quality sauerkraut, preferably Great Lakes brand


Prepare grill.  Place brats in a medium pot just large enough to accommodate links in a single layer.  Cover brats with the beer and chopped onions.  Gradually bring to a simmer over low heat.  Do not boil or the skins will split and you’ll lose a few of those 22 grams of delicious pig fat.  Par-boil brats for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until gray and barely cooked through.  Brats should plump as they take on the beer.

Brats on the Weber
Remove brats from par-boil liquid and place on grill over low heat.  Gently brown the exterior of the brat.  Do not over-cook or you’ll start a grease fire.  Again, the objective is to keep all those tasty juices inside the brat where they belong.  Turn brats until brown on all sides -- approximately 5 minutes per side.  Remove from grill.  Toast buns on grill (optional) and serve with brats, sauerkraut, and your favorite condiments (ketchup and mustard only for the purists).  Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic information! I think I've been over boiling my brats all my life and cooking the tasty fat right out of them. Can't wait to try it Trigg-style. (By the way Mike, nobody actually believes that your petite frame could take down 2 brats in one session, but we do appreciate you augmenting the story for entertainment purposes.)