Monday, March 20, 2017

Süss-saure Bratwurst -- Bratwurst in Sweet-Sour Sauce

Time-Life Books published a series called "Foods of the World".  Each small, spiral-bound book represented a country.  I have several in my collection and today's dish comes from the 1969 volume Recipes:  The Cooking of Germany.


I recall picking it up at a local library bookstore:  one summer someone donated many cookbooks and I had a grand time picking through them and bringing home new treasures.

The other day I came home with a family-size pack of bratwurst, so of course I headed to this sweet little book for inspiration!  On page 34 I found

Süss-saure Bratwurst -- Bratwurst in Sweet-Sour Sauce

To serve 4

8 bratwurst, separated
1 tablespoon dried black currants
4 whole allspice, pulverized with a mortar and pestle
2 cups cold water
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

It was fun crushing the allspice in the mortar.
Place the bratwurst, currants and allspice in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan and pour in the water.  Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan.  Simmer for 20 minutes, then set the sausages aside on a plate and cover with foil to keep them warm.  Let the cooking liquid settle for a minute or two, and skim as much of the fat from the surface as possible.

In a heavy 8- to 10-inch skillet, melt the butter over moderate heat.  Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the mixture colors lightly.  Be careful it doesn't burn.  Pour in 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid including the currants.  Stirring constantly with a whisk, bring the sauce to a boil.  When it is thick and smooth, reduce the heat to low, stir in the sugar and salt and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.  Slice the sausages into 1/4-inch rounds, add them to the sauce and simmer only long enough to heat them through.  Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice and taste for seasoning.  Transfer the entire contents of the skillet to a large, deep serving platter and serve at once.

My Notes

I really love the German method of cooking sausages by simmering them in a flavored liquid.  Sometimes they are cooked in a sauce, as in this recipe, and sometimes they are finished in a pan with a little butter to get them a lovely golden brown.

At the beginning of cooking.
This process, with currants and allspice, smells wonderful and tastes good.

I wasn't trying to get the sausages to 1/4-inch rounds.  I just got them somewhat close.

The sauce is easy to make.  I made sure I got a lot of the currants out of the sausage liquid and into the sauce.  It was hard to skim the fat off the cooking liquid while it was in the saucepan.  I ended up pouring it all into a big measuring cup, removed much of the top water and fat layers, and just made sure I had the one cup of reserved liquid with currants and allspice settled in it.

Thick and bubbly.
I noticed the cooked sausages were still pretty pink in the middle, so I heated them in the sauce longer than the recipe suggested just to make sure they were cooked thoroughly.  The sauce did not suffer because of it.

Stir carefully so they don't fly out of the pan.
I didn't have fresh lemon juice but I did use bottled.  I suspect you could use vinegar in its place and that might be more "authentic."

The Verdict

This was very tasty!  I thought the sweet-sour combination would be more pronounced but I found I liked it just as it was.  It did not have a strong acid "bite" nor was it very sweet.  The sauce's overall flavor was a light support for the tasty sausages.  The allspice made a nice background taste and the currants were, well, as good as currants are!  If I were to change anything, I would add more lemon juice, which would be a nice contrast to the meaty, slightly fatty bratwursts.

Success!  I served it with fresh rolls, and cantaloupe with a little of the Roman liquamen steak sauce poured over it.  Just a little, to get the hint of the umami and some of the pepper to contrast with the sweet of the melon.  The fruit marinated in it for about an hour, in the refrigerator.

I garnished the sausages with a little finely chopped parsley.
I ate the leftovers for lunch the next day and the sauce was still flavorful and intact.  It had not separated at all, even after it was heated in the microwave.

Everyone agreed that they would like to have it again!

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