What’s Long, Beige and Delicious? Homemade Bratwurst, Fool!

Homemade Brats with Rotkohl (German Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage)

Get your head out of your bums – I know what you were thinking when you read that title. We bought our Kitchen Aid meat grinder and sausage maker attachment months ago and since then we’ve been excited, yet kind of nervous, to try it out. I figured grinding meat would be easy, but making homemade sausages was going to be time consuming and, well, it was! Maybe it was because we had enough ground meat and fat to make the world’s biggest sausage? We ended up making enough sausages for 20 meals. Regardless of the time it took to make 25-35 sausages, I have absolutely no regrets. Using any type of new kitchen gadget takes a bit of time to get used to. When I started rolling my own pasta, it took about 5 or 6 times to really get it right. Now, I have no qualms making homemade pasta for a quick, weeknight meal. Will I be making homemade sausages for a quick, weeknight meal? Hell to the no. But will I make 35 sausages over the course of a lazy weekend in order to have enough for many, many future meals? Absolutely YES. I may not be as excellent with curing (guanciale, lardo, duck prociutto, etc) as our friend cookblog or as fabulous with all things meat and fish as Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, but I now feel confident in grinding and blending pig fat, various bits of pork and veal with some seasonings and stuffing them into hog casings.

Hog Casings for Homemade Bratwurst

Which brings me to hog casings. Yes, hog casings. You all do realize that most of the sausage you eat is stuffed into a layer of a pig’s intestine called submucosa? The submucosa is made of mainly collagen Making Homemade Bratwurstwhich makes it perfect for being a delicate (and flavor-free), thin and flexible parcel to hold ground meat. You can also buy artificial casings, but why go there unless you have to? For us, finding natural hog casings proved to be a bit difficult, only because many butchers need you to ask for some on a day that they are stuffing sausage or when their order comes in. But many butchers should have plenty on hand to either sell you or, in our case, give you for free. They’ll often look at you, eyes widened, with a “BRAVO!” look as though they are very proud that someone is actually making sausages at home.

When the fourth butcher we went to finally had some casings to give us, he quickly bundled some up, handed them to me and said, “There ya go, it’s on us! You know what do to with them, right?” All of a sudden, over-confident Amy came over me and replied, without hesitation, “Oh, totally… thanks so much!”. I felt too proud to admit I had no freaking clue what to do. I walked home with my casings, palms sweating, heart beating fast hoping that I was ready for this new challenge.

Just a few tips that I learned with some research and with my first sausage-making experience:

  • Don’t let your over-confidence/pride take over. Just talk to your butcher about what to do! Don’t be like me…
  • If you decide to be like me, then make sure you wash your casings and run some water through to clean them. Ask your butcher if they are already cleaned – this could save you a bit of time.
  • Have some lubrication (I used melted butter) ready to put on the sausage nozzle. You need to be able to slide your hog casings on to the nozzle very easily and they are delicate.
  • Have a partner to help you. Someone needs to feed that ground meat through the processor and someone needs to “catch” the meat in the casings. I can’t imagine being able to make sausages without someone helping.
  • Keep your ground meat/fat/spices mixture very, very cold. If it is too warm, the machine will melt the fat even more. This will make it much more difficult to stuff into the meat grinder and will make the sausage stuffing process much slower. I even put mine in the freezer for a half hour so that it was super cold.
  • Have fun. Don’t forget to make a few fun penis jokes here and there and maybe slap your (preferably male) partner with some newly filled sausages on the butt! It’s fun to make snausages!

We used the brilliant Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn recipe for brats from their book Charcuterie. We paired this with the delicious sweet and sour German side dish, Rohtkol made with red cabbage and apples. It was a comforting meal and really showcased the sausage. We can’t wait to make more sausages in the future!

Making Homemade Bratwurst

CLASSIC BRATWURST WITH ROTKOHL (German Red Cabbage) – Adapted from Charcuterie

Bratwurst Ingredients (**feel free to cut this recipe in half as it makes about 5 pounds of sausage):

  • 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder/butt, diced
  • 1 pound boneless veal shoulder, diced
  • 1 pound pork fat back (if all you can find is salted, wipe as much salt off as you can and leave out at least half of the added salt in the next step), diced
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground caraway seed
  • 2 teaspoons ground mustard powder
  • 4 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh grated nutmeg
  • 2 cold beaten eggs
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 10 feet of clean, soaked hog casings

Recipe for the bratwurst:

  1. Toss your diced pork, veal and fat together. Using a meat grinder, grind all of it up together.
  2. Combine all the ingredients with the ground meat/fat mixture. Use your hands or your (even easier) kitchen aid mixer to do so. It should be a bit sticky. Test a bit of the meat by cooking it in a pan to check for seasonings. Adjust if necessary. When perfect, chill in a bowl in the fridge for a long time, or put in the freezer for a half hour to ensure it is VERY cold for sausage stuffing.
  3. Add the sausage attachment to your mixture and put some lube (butter) on the nozzle. Slide the hog casing on to the sausage nozzle until there is only a 2-inch piece hanging on the end. Tie a knot in the end piece of the hog casing.
  4. Turn your Kitchen Aid on a medium speed and start stuffing your very cold Brat mixture into the sausage maker and watch your hog casings fill up! Using your hand “work” the casings so they don’t get over-filled as they can burst. Ever six to twelve inches (depending on how big you want your brats), twist the hog casing into links. Continue stuffing until meat mixture is gone.
  5. Cook links in a hot pan or roast in an oven until brown and cooked all the way through. Serve with some good mustard on top of Rohtkohl (see below for recipe).

Ingredients for Rotkohl:

  • 1 head of red cabbage, thinly shredded
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large apple, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 rashes of bacon, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup cider or red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground caraway seed
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (brown or white)
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain or dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Recipe for Rotkohl

  1. In a heavy-bottomed pan or dutch oven, cook bacon until fat is rendered and bacon is cooked. Remove the bacon but leave fat in the pan.
  2. Add the garlic, onions and apples and allow to cook in the fat for a few minutes until they get some color. After 3 minutes or so, add the shredded cabbage and stir to mix everything together. Allow the cabbage to cook down a bit – about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add all the other ingredients (add only half of the beef stock), along with the reserved bacon and stir. Bring to a boil, then lower to medium-low to simmer with the lid on. Check after 30 minutes of cooking to see if more liquid is needed. If so, add some more beef stock. Stir. Cover again and cook for a total of 1 to 1 1/2 hours (depending on how crunchy/soft you want your cabbage). Beware of the 3 cloves – if you can find them to pick them out before serving that would be good.

Homemade Brats with Rotkohl (German Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage)

40 thoughts on “What’s Long, Beige and Delicious? Homemade Bratwurst, Fool!

  1. Wow, veramente bravi! 🙂 I am jealous – I love sausage so I’d love to be able to make my own as the sausage in Italy is pretty 2-dimensional: with fennel seeds and/or with hot pepper. Alas, my kitchen aid is still in America. I hope you keep us updated on more sausage recipes!

  2. Your bratwurst looks fantastic! I applaud you for using the natural casings. I participated in a pig “matanza” a few years ago, and we used artificial casings for the sausages. We weighed the options: cleaning the intestines or purchasing artificial. We opted for the later. The butchery and gutting were challenging enough that we didn’t have the fortitude to clean the casings, too.

  3. Amy,
    You are 2 brave souls!
    I baked cakes on this rainy day, and you made sausages!

    They would be great holiday gifts! I will give you my address in a separate email!

    They really look fantastic. I won’t be attempting this anytime soon.

  4. Hello from Germany!

    I’ve stumbled across this post while checking my usual blogs (yours was linked from Tastespotting), and was intrigued: Why is a bratwurst featured so prominently on a food site?

    When I read that you have made them yourselves, I was quite speechless. Because this really is an amazing achievement.

    As I live in Germany (in a suburb of Munich, to be exact, in the heart of Bavaria), I have of course grown up with bratwursts of all kinds. It never occured to me that this was a food that could be made at home.

    Your blog post changed this. I know that wurst is not that prominent in the rest of the world as it is here, and that the wurst-lover might be in dire need if he or she really wanted to get his hands on a really good specimen. As I said, there’s so much sausage around here that there’s no real need for trying this at home. I guess, in a normal supermarket over here, there would be, hmmm… say, about 20 to 30 different varieties of sausage for pan-frying or barbecuing (bratwurst) or heating in water, soups or stews (frankfurters), as well as 40 to 50 cold cuts plus diverse Salami varieties. As I said, I’m completely flabbergasted to see people actually making these themselves.

    I am not a explicit sausage-lover, but I like to eat a bit of a good wurst from time to time. For breakfast, yet I usually take one or two slices of sausage or ham on my buttered sourdough bread, or buy a wurstsemmel (try a picture search) on my way to work, but that’s about it. A wurst like the bratwurst you made (and it looks very good!) usually is a afternoon snack or something for the night, after a cinema show or something like that. It is, of course, well sold at the Oktoberfest.

    In the area I live in (Oberbayern), I am better acquainted with the combination of “bratwurst mit sauerkraut”, while you took the Rotkohl with the Apple. It is perfectly legitimate to do so, but I am not sure the sweeteness of the Apple-Rotkohl doesn’t collice with the spicyness of the sausage and the mustard. I am used to Rotkohl (Blaukraut or “blue kraut” as we say usually in Bavarian dialect) more as going with Schweinebraten or Christmas Goose.

    Anyway, I really am impressed by you making sausage at home! Since my last visit to the US has been in 1999, all my wurst-related prejudices might be very much outdated. But next time I’ll go, I’ll definitely look into the butcher’s and supermarkets to see if the wurst situation has changed. I guess it has – with ingenious people like you being so wurst-thirsty they go for it at home. 🙂

    I am, meanwhile, saving up for a kitchen aid machine of my own. They really are fabulously sturdy, and seem to be among the best on the market. Yet the basic starter kit is hellishly expensive over here. About 500 Euros to start (really, check it on amazon.de).

    Many greetings to Brooklyn, as I found out in the “about this blog” section from Munich!


  5. You guys are too kind. I still haven’t gotten it together to make these, but I’m working up the courage. Those look truly fantastical and delicious. I also have to commend you on your restraint with the easy dick jokes; I found the post to be tasteful and informative.

    So, which one of you “catches?”

  6. That would have been worth it just for the title! But what an awesome post. I love sausages of all stripes and these look great. I’m so impressed at making your own… I hope I’m brave enough to try it some day (and that Santa brings me a grinder to do it with!)

  7. We are so new to our KitchenAid that we’ve only just started investigating the pasta attachment, and now I learn there’s a sausage making attachment? It sounds fabulous, and I’m already thinking of all the flavors we can try. I’m filing away your tips because I KNOW this is something we’ll want to do!

  8. Charcuterie is a great resource. I’ve used it several times for sausages and other cured meats. Highly recommend the Canadian bacon, maple bacon and pancetta.

    I do like the Kitchen Aid grinder, but I found that sausage stuffer is a piece of crap…even with Hubby helping, I end up cussing and moaning. After 4 times now, it still hasn’t gotten better.

    But your sausage looks great! Danes also eat this kind of sausage with red cabbage for Christmas.

  9. We’ve had that Kitchen Aide attachment for two years and have yet to even take it out of the box! I admit to never knowing about hog casings…I’ll have to go find a butcher!

  10. Yum! My uncle is a butcher and makes the best summer sausage and brats in the world. I remember being at his house when I was five and helping him and my cousins wash the casings. I wasn’t that grossed out because I was only five and wasn’t really thinking, “These things used to hold pig poop.” Now, 40 years later, I might be a little grossed out. But not enough to put me off his brats.

  11. My first try at sausage making was kind of easy, but I used salmon. But oopsy, I didn’t know you’re supposed to rinse the casings out first. 😛

    I really love what you did here, and the photos are great.

  12. Oh wow, that is indeed long, delectably beige, and undoubtedly delicious! Ooh, I get goosebumps just looking at it, glistening like that. 😉

    I have contemplated getting the meat grinder attachment. Contemplated, contemplated. . .I think you might have sold me.

  13. Thanks for all the great tips.
    We’ve been contemplating that KA meat grinder attachment for sausage making. And now I’m convinced we might need to actually go there.

    LOVE this.

  14. Sausage making is on of my fave autumn tasks and you get your own ultimate sausage, knowing exactly what’s in it (and assured no Scrapple is int it)!

  15. Bravo indeed! I recently bought Charcuterie and used it to cure bacon. It is an excellent book. I managed to procure some hog casings from Whole Foods as well. I hadn’t decided on what type of sausage yet, but your tips from experience will definitely help.

  16. I’ve never made my own sausages…but I do ask the guys behind the meat and seafood counters for tips and suggestions. Occasionally they’ll pop up with an idea or technique I’ve never heard of and enlighten me. I figure it’s always good to hit up the source—you never know what helpful tidbits they’ll impart!

    Kudos for homemade brats though, just fantastic!

  17. kevin’s comments kill me

    so get this, i have the KA grinder, the KA stuffer and a bag full-o sausage casings in my fridge. real ones that are in salt. they’ve been in there for like 6 months?

    i’ve used none of it. zero.

    oh and i have the book charcuterie, as well…

    hey – when i finally make these i am totally using KY jelly as the lubricant.

  18. Seriously impressive. I’ve seen some people grind their own meat, but I think this may be the first post I’ve seen about making sausages at home from scratch.

    I get the whole – too proud to ask the butcher question business. Last time I was in to the butcher he kind of made fun of me. Now I feel really timid about asking questions. I think I need to find a different butcher.

    We’ve got an award for you!

  19. Okay. That looks absolutely delicious. And I could devour the whole thing. But making it myself… Hmmmm not sure I could handle it. You guys are so bold. The Moxie couple!

  20. I think I have to bow before you. I’m sitting here with my mouth gaping open and thinking – I don’t think I could tackle that job in a month of Sundays. Kudos – what a great post.

  21. Why is it that hands and mouth provide us with so much pleasure? Don’t be a bad girl… I’m also talking about making and eating sausages ;D

    Great job guys!!!! I don’t know if I would have the patience… That first picture looks so sinful!!!! Superb!

  22. what a fantastic post – not only does the sausage look awesome, it’s homemade – kudos! one of my favourite meals, and the dollop of good mustard just ties it all off. Fantastic, we need to bring back sausage making!!

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