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Sheboygan Purist Grilled Bratwurst

Some bratmeisters say that beer is for drinking - not for cooking brats.  Purists also say that you shouldn't cover your grill as you're cooking bratwurst, as this can cause an oily smoke film to be deposited on your brats.  And in Sheboygan, lump charcoal is preferred over charcoal briquettes.

Mound lump charcoal or charcoal briquettes in a pyramid.  Start the charcoal.  (Purists use an electric starter or crumpled paper, avoiding the use of hydrocarbons.  When the coals are partially white, spread in a single layer.
Allow the charcoal to burn until coals are covered with white-ash glowing embers (about 20-30 minutes).  The heat is just right when you can hold your hand palm-down, 2 inches above the grate, for 4-5 seconds.  If you can still see a red glow, it's too early to start cooking.

Place bratwurst on grill and turn often until done, approximately 20-25 minutes.  The brats are done when you squeeze them gently and they feel firm.  True bratmeisters use their fingers instead of tongs to turn their brats, so they can feel when the brats are firm and therefore cooked.  Turn brats often; otherwise they will be burnt on the outside and raw on the inside.  Keep a spray bottle of water handy to douse flare-ups.

Immediately serve 2 bratwurst per person, on a buttered Sheboygan hard roll, dressed with "da works" - ketchup, chopped onion, brown mustard, and dill pickle slices.  Accompany with classic Wisconsin side dishes.

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This page last updated on 08/19/2003