Bacon, Mustard & Sauerkraut Brats
There are brats and sauerkraut, and then there’s our tangy, bacon-y, impossibly good Bacon, Mustard & Sauerkraut Brats. These aren’t your average brats, and this isn’t your average topping.
How did we transform a casual, backyard-barbecue dish into a gourmet meal? We started with L&B Fresh All Natural Classic Bratwurst, which is always fresh, local and never smoked or altered in any way. All our brats come from Lorentz Meats, a third-generation, family-run company in Cannon Falls, Minnesota. Lorentz produces meat in small batches, which results in a higher-quality product, and they use family recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. Their meats never have antibiotics, growth hormones or MSG.
Then we cut and seared the brats. Searing the meat deepens the flavor, and the surface gets lightly crispy and caramelized. Slicing the brats lengthwise before searing them creates more (deliciously caramelized!) surface area for the mustard-sauerkraut topping, improving the brat-to-topping ratio in every bite and transforming this dish from a simple brat into a meal unto itself.
The topping is unique, too. We didn’t just plop sauerkraut and mustard on top of a brat and call it good. We swirled together bacon, onion, garlic, caraway seeds, sauerkraut, lager, a bay leaf and Lost Capital Mustard, and let it simmer on the stovetop for an hour. Lost Capital is a local condiment company and its mustard is a delicious combination of craft beer, coarse ground mustard and fiery ghost peppers. Finally, we added a bit of creamy Swiss cheese to the brats to calm the mustard and balance the kraut. As one of the chefs in our test kitchen said, “I could eat this topping by the spoonful.”
Try these souped-up brats with a pint of beer and a side of potatoes and braised cabbage.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 75 minutes
¼ pound smoked bacon, diced
½ yellow onion, julienned
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon caraway seeds
1 pound fresh sauerkraut
6 ounces lager beer
1 bay leaf
1 jar Lost Capital Mustard
2 packages L&B Fresh Classic Bratwurst
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
8 brat buns
- In a medium saucepan, cook the bacon over medium-low heat until crisp, 7 to 10 minutes. Drain off all but about 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat and reserve the rest for later. Leave the bacon in the pan.
- Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the caraway seeds and cook for 1 more minute.
- Add in the sauerkraut, beer, bay leaf and 1 tablespoon of Lost Capital Mustard and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 1 hour.
- With 20 minutes remaining, heat the oven to 350 F.
- Heat a cast-iron pan to medium-high heat and cook the bratwurst, turning occasionally, until the internal temperature reaches 150 F on an instant-read thermometer.
- With a small, sharp knife, slice the sausages lengthwise about two-thirds of the way down so you can fold them open.
- Wipe out the cast-iron pan, pour in about 2 tablespoons of reserved bacon fat, and bring the pan to medium-high heat. Sear the sausages in the bacon fat, cut-side down, for about 5 minutes until they are golden brown and crispy.
- Transfer the bratwurst to a sheet pan, cut-side up, and sprinkle each one with about 2 tablespoons of Swiss cheese. Put the buns on the sheet pan cut-side up, and then slide the pan in the oven until the cheese melts, about 3 minutes.
- Remove the sauerkraut mixture from the heat and stir in the chives.
- Place the bratwursts inside the toasted buns, and top each with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the sauerkraut-and-bacon mixture and 1 tablespoon of Lost Capital Mustard. Serve hot.