Five beautiful feet of bratwurst sizzling on the grill. Maybe it's the German in me (probably the Freud), but that enormous sausage is downright pornographic.
Saturday, Sept. 20 was the official start of this year’s Oktoberfest, so grilling an über brat was a must. So too was the sauerkraut, the Oktoberfest beers and the German potato salad...with swine. God I love German food. I also love my butcher.
Fact is, I could've ordered a whack of six-inch brats from the guys at Canales Quality Meats in Eastern Market. But why do that when they’ll make me a sausage as long as I want? So I e-mailed Carlos Canales and ordered up five feet of German sausage. It was ready the next day.
See, that's why we should patronize our local butchers and purveyors. The level of customer service is so much higher and the amount of knowledge they have about their products is so much richer than what you’ll find at your local chain grocery store. Besides, the quality and freshness of the products are far and away better than what you can get at Harris Teeter and Safeway. My sausage wasn’t trucked in, Canales made it. Quality, man.
Back to the meal. In addition to the brat, I put together a variation on my mother-in-law’s German potato salad. Ma Schmirler’s dish is a straightforward German potato salad with bacon in a vinegar dressing. In my version, I replaced the boiled red potatoes with grilled fingerlings, added grilled pearl onions and tossed it all in a mustard vinaigrette. I didn’t change a thing about the bacon.
Keeping in the spirit of things, I served all of this with a couple Oktoberfest beers. Using Rob Rutledge’s great reviews of German and American Oktoberfest beers as a guide, I bought six-packs of
Canales Quality Meats
306 7 St., S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20003
(Tip: If you want to order your brat or brats from Canales Quality Meats, e-mail Carlos by the Tuesday before you need it.)
Bratwurst and grilled German potato salad
(Makes 5 hearty servings)
For the bratwurst
1 five-foot bratwurst (or 10 traditional six-inch brats)
10 buns (optional)
1 lb. sauerkraut (never optional when grilling brats)
For the grilled German potato salad
2 ½ lbs. of fingerling potatoes
2 dozen red pearl onions, pealed and skewered
6 slices of black pepper bacon, cut into lardons (1 inch pieces)
1 clove of garlic, minced finely
2 tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tbs. stone ground mustard
6 tbs. canola oil
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. celery seeds
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. sugar
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
To make the mustard vinaigrette, combine the vinegar, garlic, mustard, thyme, basil, celery seeds and sugar in a bowl and mix well. Slowly add the oil while whisking rapidly. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until the potatoes are ready.
If you're using a charcoal grill, light it before starting on the potatoes. If you have a gas grill, boil the potatoes first. In either case, pull the bratwurst out of the refrigerator so it can lose some of its chill.
Place potatoes in a stock pot, cover with water and add a tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until a knife inserted comes out with some resistance. Drain well and let them cool enough to handle. Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise and set aside.
As the potatoes boil, fry the bacon and set aside.
When the grill is ready, start cooking the potatoes and onions. Grill the potatoes meat side down for 3 minutes. When the potatoes have browned, remove. Pull the onions off with the last of the potatoes and chop coarsely.
While the potatoes are still hot, add them to a bowl with the bacon and onions, toss with the mustard vinaigrette, and add salt and pepper to taste.
When the potato salad is done, you're ready to grill the bratwurst and start warming the sauerkraut. Place the sauerkraut in a pot and set it off to the side the grill. Put the brat on the hottest part of the grill. After 5 minutes, carefully flip the brat over and cook for another 5 minutes. Move to a cooler part of the grill and cook for a final 10 minutes. Remove the brat and sauerkraut from the grill. Let the brat rest for 5 minutes.
To serve, cut goodly portions of the brat, spoon out the potato salad, divvy up the warmed sauerkraut and pour the beer.