When the sun seems angry—your car’s a furnace, your clothes feel like Scotch tape—sometimes you’re desperate for relief. Just give me a body of water, stat.
And if you skip town to find your oasis, you might leave some essentials behind. Like your next meal. Dang!
Dan Grice, our head chef in Chico, has an easy fix: Pale Ale-poached bratwurst.
“If I’m going to the river or going to the lake, and I didn’t plan food,” Dan says, “it’s real easy to stop by the grocery store and basically grab all of this stuff.”
With your trusty cast iron skillet, you’re 15 minutes of cook time away from juicy, flavorful sausage: caramel sweetness, a tart kick from sauerkraut, and the deep richness of soaked-in-everything veggies.
Whether you’re on a portable grill, over the campfire or at the kitchen cooktop, this is a forgiving dish that can flex to your scenario.
We preheated our 8” skillet over medium heat, then did some zigzags of oil before adding our brats. We tucked all the veggies, except the green onions, into the remaining pocket of space. With everything loaded, we upped the heat to high for searing.
Flip the brats every minute or so until they’re nicely browned but not cooked through, about 4-5 minutes. Toss the veggies as you go, too.
Pour in the beer, give everything a shuffle, then cover the skillet with aluminum foil. Turn down the heat to medium-low. Leave it alone for 8-10 minutes.
This poaching process steams the meat instead of boiling it, which can compromise flavor.
“We’ve also deglazed the pan,” Dan says, “so any of that flavor that we build up from searing the sausage [and veggies] will go back into the liquid and continue to add flavor to the inside of the sausage.”
Toward the end of cooking, the foil might expand, even letting a little steam roll out of the sides. This is a good sign, a cue to finish up. Remove the foil, sprinkle in your green onions, and drop in the butter. Once that’s melted and mixed, it’s brat-assembly time.
For good measure, we still recommend checking the temperature with a meat thermometer, aiming for 155°-160°. This is where, depending on how you’re cooking (e.g., over a campfire), you have wiggle room.
“If it’s like 145° but it’s still sitting in the hot liquid,” Dan says, “it’ll carryover cook for a while.”
Similarly, if your temperature is too high (e.g., 180°) you can leave it in the liquid to cool down, and it won’t dry out.
“The beer is this nice buffer that protects [the meal] from us screwing it up,” he says.
An invincible brat, basically. Dress yours up and dive in.