German Sausage Guide #5: Bratwurst

Lamb sausage on a plate
Lamb Bratwurst with bread and mustard

What’s a Bratwurst?

Probably the best known, best loved German sausage of them all is the Bratwurst.  This umbrella term is today generally understood to cover any sausage that’s grilled or fried (thanks to the German verb braten, meaning to fry), however the word is suggested to have originated with the old high German word bräto, or lean meat, which evolved to Brät, which translates as finely ground (sausage) meat (source).

Bratwürste vary in size, texture and consistency from region to region and can be made from pretty much any kind of meat, from pork or beef to lamb, veal, wild boar or venison.  Additions to the basic sausage mix vary from classic seasonings such as onions, garlic, herbs and spices (parsley, fennel, allspice) to more luxurious flavourings such as truffle.

There’ll be all manner of Bratwürste featured in this guide over time, but the best known regional Bratwurst variations include the Nürnburger, a thin, smallish sausage made with pork and marjoram; and the Thüringer Wurstchen, a longer, thicker sausage made with pork, beef or veal and seasoned with cumin, marjoram and garlic.

A pair of raw Bratwurst in butcher's paper
A pair of classic pork Bratwürste

 

How do you eat a Bratwurst?

There are countless ways to prepare Bratwürste, but the simplest and arguably most popular way to eat them is grilled (on a bbq) and served with mustard and a slice of bread.  Other popular variations include serving chunks of sausage covered in a thick tomato sauce and sprinkled with curry powder (Currywurst); frying them to eat with mashed potato and red cabbage; and simmering them in a mixture of white wine, vinegar, onions and spices to eat with a slice of bread (Blaue Zipfel, hugely popular in the region of Franken).

Bratwürste.  There are hundreds of ’em.  How do you like yours?

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