When you think of Germany, you think of bratwurst! There is no German food that is better known worldwide. Available in every city, whether in a restaurant, pub, at a festival, or buying some to grill yourself in the grocery store, they are everywhere. Living in Germany for a number of years, we felt it was high time to learn a little more about this tasty icon of German culture. The first bratwurst was recorded in Nuremberg in 1313, and this city is still the best place to try them.[toc]
The Famous German Bratwurst
Off to Nuremberg we went (well, a tad bit south of Nuremberg) to learn the secrets to making the best bratwurst. What we thought would be a straightforward lesson in how to, turned into a day of sausage fun. In one day, we ate more German bratwurst sausage than in the entire year.
Our Day Learning Everything Wurst
We booked our lesson with Metzgerei Böbel, in Rittersbach about 30 kilometers south of Nuremberg. This small family-owned bakery highlights German wurst in a whole new way! With much of their business mailing out all kinds of German butchered goods all over the world, they knew that their cooking bratwurst lessons would be a hit. They were not wrong. Claus and his wife greeted us with a small pork snack and a tiny beer to get us into the German taste zone, preparing us for what was ahead.
Butchering the Pig
The first step in cooking bratwurst is making it. This is what we came for, but we didn’t know how far to the beginning Claus was going to take us. After a thorough hand-washing, we were taken into the bowels of the butchery where we donned chain-mail aprons and gloves to begin processing a side of pork. We each took turns cutting off parts and de-boning the ribs. As an introduction to sausage-making, it wasn’t for the faint of heart. We ended up with over seven kilograms of chunked meat that we would then mince in the industrial-strength grinder.
It was at this juncture that I realized that we weren’t using off-cuts or leftovers in this famous German sausage. We were using prime pork, the good bits. It was time to season it, and as with most recipes there was plenty of weighing, math, and precision measuring. Some of the ingredients we used included garlic, marjoram, nutmeg, cumin, and all spice. These were all hand mixed into the meat and thoroughly massaged into the raw meat.
We had a large green tub filled with the aromatic pork mixture and it was time for our first tasting. Claus gleefully brought out some dark bread and onion slices. He made us a raw pork sandwich. He was smiling so large, that at first we thought he was kidding, but he ate the entire thing in a couple of bites. After all these years living in Germany, I did not know that raw pork was a dish that is so popular. Claus told us that they sell over two kilos of it each day for the locals’ lunches.
Raw pork was not the only surprise tasting. Five hours later we’d tried seven different courses of the pork mixture made in a variety of ways, but the most important one, the best one, was why we were there. We had German bratwurst boiled, grilled, and even as a candy.
We still had not stuffed our bratwurst into the casings, and luckily that was the next item on the agenda. We all learned how to hold our hands around the spout of the sausage machine, then try our turn at stuffing the casings ourselves. I tried first on the slow speed, which I by no means mastered, then Claus had me try it at professional speed. Guess what? I’m no professional. This is something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and it was amazing fun.
Our heads and bellies full of new information and how to cook sausage seven ways, we left the butchery and headed home. What a day!
If you are interested in learning how to make German Bratwurst, or any other sausage or butcher products, contact Claus and Metzgerei Böbel. He’ll help you out, and you’ll have a lot of fun!
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