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Getting ready to cook a classic bratwurst. For some it’s a staple of barbecue food, perfectly complimenting the smoked meats. Grilled brats are a quick, juicy, and simple tailgate food that can easily be shared.
What Is a Bratwurst?
Bratwurst is a type of German sausage typically made from pork, although beef or veal can also be used.
Sausages come in all shapes and sizes, but not all sausages are bratwursts. You can find sausages at the supermarket or butcher shop with a synthetic casing, whereas bratwursts usually have a natural casing made from animal intestines or animal skin.
What Is a Bratwurst Made Of?
Brats are made from various types of meat including pork, veal, and beef. They have a smooth texture, pale color, and mild flavor. They can be seasoned with salt, white pepper, nutmeg, lemon peel, marjoram, caraway, and garlic.
You will find brats precooked or raw at supermarkets, if they have been precooked you have no worries about safety as the dangerous pathogens have been eradicated. But if they are raw uncooked brats then it’s important to know how what temperature the bratwurst should be.
What Internal Temperature Should Bratwurst Be Cooked To?
A meat thermometer can be used to check if brats on the grill are done. To do this, insert the probe into one end of the sausage and wait 2-3 seconds for a reading. The safe temperature level should be an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you don’t have a meat thermometer, order one now. But to check if they are done then is to check for firmness by pinching the brats between your thumb and forefinger. They should have a little bounce but be firm.
Ultimately when you cook bratwurst, if you maintain heat on the meat for up to 30 min the meat will be safe. Don’t cook it for too long as the bratwurst will dry out and lose its juiciness.
Using a Thermometer to Check Brats on a Grill
The purchase of a meat thermometer is really important for cooking meat at home. Without it you are just guessing, this is ok for a while. But do you really want to be the one responsible for undercooking your meat and someone getting ill? It’s important to know when your meat reaches an internal temperature of 160°F.
A meat thermometer can be purchased for as little as $20, but good quality ones like the thermapen can be had for $50 and are a highly recommended the investment.
There are five levels of doneness for meat: rare, medium-rare, medium, medium-well, and well-done.
Although there is debate about the precise internal temperature for each level, most people would agree with the following:
- Rare: 125-130°F;
- Medium-rare: 130-140°F;
- Medium: 140-150°F;
- Medium-well: 150-160°F;
- Well done: 160°F or higher.
This means that regardless of what the recipe says in terms of cooking time, it is more accurate to measure the internal temperature of the bratwurst sausages. The minimum temperature that the bratwurst should be cooked to is 160°F.
“Rare” means that the bratwurst is pink in the center and the meat has a very soft texture.
“Well-done” means that the brat is golden brown all the way through and has a firm but bouncy texture.
The other two levels fall between these two extremes.
“Medium-rare” is slightly pink in the center with a firmer texture than rare.
“Medium” is nearly cooked with a softer texture than well-done.
If you cook the meat between 15-30 minutes then it likely to be ready.
Use the meat thermometer in the end of the sausage for about 2 seconds to check the internal temperature. It should be about 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tips and Tricks for the Best Grilled Bratwurst
Some tips and tricks to get the best-grilled bratwurst so you can amaze your guests.
- Pre heat the grill: Before you start to cook your brats get the grill up to the right temperature. If you get your grill between 300-350 Fahrenheit you will have less time cooking and can get the perfect grill marks on your bratwurst.
- Use tongs: Use tongs instead of piercing with a fork or knife. This leaves the juice in the bratwurst. If pierced the juices flow out of the bratwurst and the cooked meat can end up dry.
- Season the grill: Always season the grill with a little but of oil. This will give a non stick finish to the grill and will stop the brats from sticking to the grill rack or skillet surface.
- Get a meat thermometer: I am now just repeating myself, but really it;s the best investment to ensure that your bratwurst is fully cooked.
- Rest the bratwurst: Allow 5 minutes for your bratwurst to rest. The meat will continue cooking for a short time and guarantees it reaches the required internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit even if you take them off a little early.