Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pan-Fried Pork Bratwursts & Sweet Onions in Hard Apple Cider

Pan-Fried Bratwursts & Sweet Onions in a Hard Apple Cider |

Last week I had an intense hankering for hard apple cider. I had only ever tried three types of hard cider and there all relatively sweet, so I wanted something less sugary and more apple-y.

I'd seen this blue label haunting the refrigerated beer isles several times, so I gave it a try. So glad I did! I picked the extra-dry "brut" variation (they have an original that's probably a tad bit sweeter) and it reminded me of champagne, except for the strong emphasis on apple. It was incredibly refreshing.

I happened to have a package of Pork Brats chilling in the fridge at the time, so I decided to cook them in my beverage of choice. I usually use beer, but figured this would work wonderfully for a fall flavored meal.

Boy was it delicious, especially the caramelized onions! They absorbed the flavor of the cider as it reduced in the pan. Yum!

So, for an easy weeknight or weekend meal, try pan-fried brats in whatever cold beverage you're drinking. Well, wine might be a little weird. I wouldn't recommend that. Beer or cider, though...that's magnificent!

Plus, it gives you an excuse to buy a six-pack. Or two or three.

It's absolutely necessary to taste-test the beverages before you cook your food in it, right? Or while you're cooking it, if you're like me. :)

Pan-Fried Pork Bratwursts & Sweet Onions in Hard Apple Cider
A seasonal take on classic beer brats, this recipe infuses pan-fried sausages and caramelized sweet onions with hard apple cider. The dry cider enhances the apple flavor without added sweetness and pairs perfectly with the pork bratwursts. Serve with good mustard and sauerkraut for a german-style meal.
Serves: 4

1 tablespoon of cooking oil (I use olive oil, bacon grease, or coconut oil)
Sea salt, to taste (I recommend Pink HimalayanCeltic or Utah sourced salt)
Cracked black pepper, to taste
4 fresh bratwurst sausages (pork, chicken, or beef)
6-8 ounces of hard apple cider (about 1/2-3/4 of a 12 oz bottle...drink the rest!)
1 package of hot-dog buns (fresh made from a local bakery are the best)

Recommended Equipment
cast-iron skillet


Heat a cast-iron skillet to medium, then add the olive oil. Peel and cut the onion into thick wedges. Place in the pan, sprinkle with sea salt & cracked black pepper to taste (or whatever other seasonings you like) and let cook for five minutes to seven minutes, stirring occasionally.

Nestle the four bratwurst sausages into the pan, scooting the onions aside so the brats are directly touching the pan. Cover the pan with a lid. Let the brats cook for five minutes, remove the lid and flip them. Cover the pan again, cook for another five minutes. By now both sides of the brats should be thoroughly browned. Remove the lid and pour in the hard apple cider. Reduce the heat to medium-low, again cover the pan and let the brats cook for 10 minutes.

Test the brats for pinkness by cutting into one or use a meat thermometer. If necessary, cook for another five minutes. When cooked, remove brats from pan and leave the lid off. Turn the heat up to medium-high or high and let the onions & cider cook until most if not all of the liquid has reduced. Place each brat on a bun and top with the caramelized onions. Eat as is or for a more authentic meal, serve with mustard and sauerkraut.

Notes & Tips
Use fresh bratwursts from a local grocer or deli market, if possible. If not, you can certainly use one of the national brands. Just make sure to buy raw bratwursts and not the pre-cooked variety.

Watch the brats carefully. They can overcook quickly. Cooking times may vary based on different stove-top ranges and equipment. Just keep an eye on 'em, but sip on some cider or beer while you're doing so. ;)

If you don't like hard apple cider, substitute your favorite beer. Any beer will work, although the flavors will change based on your beer of choice. This is more noticeable if you're using a craft or seasonal beer, as those breweries employ lots of different seasonings.

Keep in mind that if you're subbing chicken or turkey bratwursts, they are easier to dry out because they have a lower fat content. Keep an eye on them!

Question for Discussion: What are your favorite toppings for bratwurst? 

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