Bratwurst, commonly known as brats, is a type of sausage that has become a popular substitute for hot dogs. By boiling brats before putting them on the grill, you can infuse the flavor, shorten the cooking time and ensure they have been sufficiently heated to destroy any pathogens.
Not all brats need to be boiled before grilling. If you have fresh brats, boil them in a cast-iron skillet for 10 to 15 minutes.
Things to Know About Brats
Bratwurst sausage originated in Germany and has become a favorite picnic and tailgating food. Although traditionally made with pork or a pork and veal mixture, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (NHDSC), brats can contain any type of meat. They come in a variety of sizes and textures, as well as seasonings, such as pepper, sage and nutmeg.
Brats are usually made into links and can be purchased fresh, fully cooked or cured. Cured sausages were the subject of a May 2012 study published in the Journal of Food Science, which compared the effects of various cooking methods on food nitrate content. Researchers have found that boiling was one of the best methods of cooking cured meat.
If you buy pre-cooked brats, you only need to heat them. Bring a pan of water to a boil, remove the pan from the heat and add the brats. Cover the pan and let it stand for 10 to 15 minutes, advises the NHDSC. Using this method will lessen the chance of the bratwurst splitting; Then, if you want to brown the brats, you can put them on the grill.
Boiling Brats Is Easy
Fresh brats require a different cooking method. It is necessary to parboil brats before grilling to ensure that they are thoroughly cooked. Cooking brats in a cast-iron skillet is a good way to do so.
Add enough water or other liquid to cover the brats. The bratwurst boil time is about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the sausage is grey throughout, as suggested by the NHDSC.
You can then transfer the brats to the grill to nicely brown and crisp them. Make sure their internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit if they contain ground beef, pork, lamb or veal. For brats made from ground turkey or chicken, the temperature should be at least 165 degrees, advises the USDA.
Substituting beer for water when parboiling brats adds flavor. The best beer for brats depends on what would pair best with the type of bratwurst you're using.
For example, beers that are heavy on malt will produce a sweet flavor and complement a strong sausage, as noted by the NHDSC. Lagers tend to be bitter and complements a sweeter brat. Onions may also be added to the beer while parboiling brats to further enhance their aroma.
Read more: Can You Eat Sausages on a Low-Carb Diet?
Nutrition in Bratwurst Sausage
A link of cooked pork brats weighing 85 grams contains 283 calories. That's about14 percent of the daily value (DV), based on a 2,000-calorie diet, according to the USDA. The total calories are comprised of 80 percent fat, with 8.5 grams being saturated fats — 42 percent of the DV — per link.
There is only a minimal amount of carbs in pork brats, but the cholesterol count is 62.9 milligrams per link. If you're trying to lower your cholesterol, you should limit your intake to 200 milligrams a day, advises the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Brats are a good source of protein, with 11.7 grams or 23 percent of the DV per link. They also provide 25 percent of the DV for zinc plus B vitamins, phosphorus and selenium, as reported by the USDA. If you are on a sodium-restricted diet, beware that one link of brats contains 719 milligrams of sodium, or 30 percent of the DV.
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: "Sausage and Food Safety"
- National Hot Dog and Sausage Council: Sausage Glossary: "A Guide to Sausage Varieties"
- Journal of Food Science: "Influence of Various Cooking Methods on the Concentrations of Volatile N-Nitrosamines and Biogenic Amines in Dry-Cured Sausages"
- National Hot Dog and Sausage Council: "Tips for Cooking Linked Sausage "Sausage, Whether Fresh, Cooked or Cured, Remains a Staple of the Diet Around the World"
- USDA: "Nutrition Facts for Pork Bratwurst"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "How to Lower Cholesterol with Diet"