This month’s Charcutepalooza challenge is blending, which involves emulsification of ground meat to create a smooth texture. From my perspective, blending means an even bigger raw meat horror show than last month’s sausage. For blending, the esteemed Charcutepalooza founders Mrs. Wheelbarrow and The Yummy Mummy challenged us to make bratwurst or weisswurst for the Apprentice level, and hot dogs or mortadella for the Charcutiere level. We chose bratwurst. We thought about making weisswurst, but I was intimidated by descriptions of the traditional way of eating it (slicing open the casing or sucking the meat out of the casing), and wasn’t sure I would like the taste of the weisswurst. I already know I like bratwurst. We also like hot dogs (who doesn’t?), but the smaller casings we ordered did not arrive in time to make the hot dogs for this challenge. We will make them at some point this summer — can’t let those intestines go to waste — and maybe post some photos from the experience. If you’re lucky. Or unlucky, depending on how much you enjoy seeing pictures of raw meat. Speaking of which, prepare yourself for some pretty gnarly shots of uncooked animal flesh ahead. While not the prettiest process, this resulting bratwurst is by far our favorite tasting Charcutepalooza effort to date.
We seasoned the bratwurst with ground marjoram, ginger, nutmeg and pepper. The eggs and heavy cream help to create the smooth texture of the emulsion and add a very rich flavor to the brats.
We used pork and veal shoulder for the bratwurst, both very large cuts of meat. Upon reflection and as you will notice from photos below, smaller cuts might have been easier to manage. But now we have a freezer full of brats, so no harm done.
Dan started by cutting all the meat into small pieces. He had to work in batches, keeping the meat cold in between cutting because there was so much meat. So. Much. Meat.
Because it is so important to keep the meat cold, Dan worked quickly while cutting up the batches. So quickly that he missed the bowl several times, leaving chunks of meat on the counter. Ironically, these pieces landed right next to our hand soap and dish soap containers, taunting them. And me. I knew at this point that the challenging part of this mission for me was going to be trying to focus on helping and taking the photos, rather than following Dan’s every move with a roll of paper towels and a bottle of 409.
After cutting up all the meat, Dan mixed in the dry spices. The best way to thoroughly mix everything is by hand. We went through a lot of soap that day.
Dan prepared the world’s longest casing by rinsing it. Apparently some air got in the casing during the process, which didn’t seem to be a problem for making the brats, but sure looked gross.
Dan also had to work in batches grinding the meat, since there was so much of it. Our poor mixer got quite a workout that day.
We often enjoy a nice glass of wine while cooking, and Charcutepalooza is no exception. But it does have potential for raw meat contamination, so a straw came in handy while Dan had his hands full.
Unlike sausage, bratwurst requires a smaller grind, so we put it through the grinder twice.
Then we added the very cold eggs and cream to help emulsify the meat while blending it with the mixer.
Remember how I said we probably should have used less meat? This realization became most obvious during the blending process, when the meat kept coming up out of the mixing bowl.
Like it was trying to escape. I was *this close* to deciding our Kitchen Aid would never be clean again and buying a new one at this point.
But then I started working on clean-up and became even closer to deciding we needed a whole new kitchen. The worst part was running the disposal, which caused the same floating-meat-bit nightmare to bubble up in the adjacent sink. I’m still not over it.
The rest of the process is the same as with sausage — set up the sausage stuffer, pack in the meat, lube up the casing holder, thread on the casing, crank out the brats and twist off the links.
A lot of meat results in a lot of bratwurst. Once they dried out in the fridge a bit, we froze several portions. If anyone invites us to a BBQ or comes to one at our house this summer, expect there to be bratwurst.
We had our first taste of bratwurst on the Fourth of July. We started by simmering the brats in beer with some onions for about 6 minutes.
Then we grilled them over medium-high heat for about 6 more minutes, turning them often so they got browned on all sides.
While the bratwurst cooked, we sauteed some red bell pepper, onion and poblano pepper for garnish.
The result was the best bratwurst either of us has ever had. Perfect flavor and texture and definitely better than store-bought varieties we’ve had in the past. The brats were so good that I think I can get past the raw-meat-all-over-the-kitchen aspect of the blending process, and look forward to trying homemade hot dogs next.