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Tips on Making Smoked Bratwurst
The Old Fashioned Way
My Grandfather used a 50 gallon drum to smoke it in. He put wire across the top of the barrel, (both ends were cut out), and he made sure that the wires were far enough apart so the sausage would not touch. Now you can buy the smokers or make one out of an old refrigerator and smoke your own.
The sausage we make and my Grandparents and Parents made was always 3/4 pork ground on a small to medium grind. Or put it though the grinder twice.
Then 1/4 beef that had the same grind. We added salt (pickling salt as that is what my Grandparents always used), black pepper, and garlic,
BUT ALWAYS START WITH SMALL AMOUNTS OF SPICES/SEASONINGS AS YOU CAN ALWAYS ADD BUT YOU CAN NEVER TAKE AWAY !!!!
They would peel the garlic and mash really well in hot water and then strain it through a small strainer into the meat. (I have sometimes put mine in a blender with the water and blended it well), then they would mix it by hand, then fry a patty to see if it had enough of all the ingredients/seasonings. ( You can always tell what it will taste like in the end if you fry a patty and then taste it - only it will not have the smoke taste yet, but the seasonings will be there.) If it is not just like you want or remembered, add some more of the seasoning of what you think is missing. BUT ALWAYS START WITH SMALL AMOUNTS OF SPICES/SEASONINGS AS YOU CAN ALWAYS ADD BUT YOU CAN NEVER TAKE AWAY !!!!
I have most generally had to add a little bit more garlic and a small amount of salt, but not much more salt as it can gets salty fast. I love the garlic flavor so I always make mine a little bit more "garlicy" but that is the way my Grandparents/Parents did too - but you make it to your taste. (In between taste-ings you should eat something like a piece of bread with jam on it or something like that to cleans your pallet so that the next time you taste it you have a new taste in your mouth and it won't blend with the last taste of the meat you tasted, or you'll not be able to tell the difference.)
Now when you have added what you want fry up another patty and taste again, and when you have it is just right for your taste, then you put it in casings. Sometimes Grandma and Grandpa would keep out a few rings of sausage that were not smoked just for a change. Only they do not keep as long - maybe 3-4 months in the freezer. It tasted good to, but we all liked the smoked best.
Oh Yes---if by chance you get too much of one of the spices/seasonings in the meat - just add some more fresh ground pork (I always keep some out for that purpose). If at the end and you have some extra ground pork left over - I just add a little garlic and some salt and pepper and make sausage patties out of it for breakfast or you can use it to add to a meat loaf too.
None of it goes to waste. After the sausage is in the casings then it should be left overnight so the seasonings can blend with the meat and the extra juices will drain out of the meat. I have had to put mine in a refrigerator sometimes (with a grate under the sausages, so the sausages could drain- I used a large plastic pan), as I could not hang them overnight like my Grandparent/Parents did. When the sausage was made my Dad always had some clean and well washed broom stick handles that he hung between chairs and he would hang the sausages over them to hang over night.
( This can only be done in cool weather as they can spoil fast if the weather is to warm.) Be sure to put some kind of paper under them - on the floor- to catch the drippings. Then the next day he would set up the smoking barrel and when the smoke was just right - and Mom knew when it was just right - they would hang the sausages in the barrel to smoke. (I finally learned how to do this and when the sausage was smoked just right). It truly is a talent that only experienced sausage makers have. I am so glad I had my parents to teach me the "Old Fashioned Way" to smoke the sausage. My Mother was a full blooded German and a Wonderful Cook. My Father was Norwegian and Swedish, but he loved German food as well as any German.
Let me know if this is any help to you. I love to make and eat this sausage.
Our families favorite !!!!!! ---Diane Erickson
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Last updated April 18, 2008