Brats, Peppers, Onions

I was trying to think of something interesting to make this coming Labor Day. I decided on bratwurst sandwiches based on the classic Italian sausage, peppers, and onion sandwich. For a twist on the side dish, I chose fried pickles with ranch dipping sauce. My recipes for fried pickles and homemade ranch dipping sauce are also in the September issue of Homegrown Journal. Click here to jump there.

recipe + photographs, videos DEAN HENRY

After initially cooking the brats, cut them in half so you can also brown them in the middle. This technique increases surface area so the Maillard reaction can take place. The maillard reaction is what gives seared steak, sautéed mushrooms, or even roasted marshmallows the nutty flavor everyone associates with them and enjoys.

Scientifically, the Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars, but all you need to know is it has a distinct and pleasant flavor. #TheMoreYouKnow

For added spice, you can also cut up a jalapeño pepper along with the other peppers.

If you plan to make the sandwiches and fried pickles at the same time, I’d suggest cooking the brats, peppers and onions before starting the fried pickles. The meat and vegetables keep really well on a warming stove, but the pickles do not stay hot or crispy while waiting on the brats. #WhatAPickle

Brats, Peppers, Onions, Sandwiches, Oh My!

MAKES 6 SANDWICHES

6 Bratwurst of your favorite flavor
6 Hoagie buns
2 Bell peppers (I used a yellow and an orange, but it can be whatever you like.)
1 Vidalia onion
1 T olive oil
Salt to taste
1 Cup water

Heat a large pan to medium, and pour in about 1 T of olive oil. When the olive oil is hot (Use the Worst Cooks in America test: Oil is hot when it sounds like applause), add the bratwursts and cook until the outsides are browned. When the bratwursts are browned, pour in the water and cover with lid, leaving the lid slightly cracked to release steam. Continue to cook for around 10 minutes or until reaching a core temperature of 160 degrees. Remove from the pan and leave to cool on a plate.

Cut the vegetables into strips and add them all to the pan along with salt. Cook until soft and they have some color. Spread the vegetables out to the edges of the pan.

Cut the bratwursts in half lengthwise and add them back to the pan cut side down. Cook on that side until nicely browned and then toss together with the vegetables. Add two bratwurst halves to each toast

For the Visual Learners

(1) Heat a large pan to medium, and pour in about 1 T of olive oil. When the olive oil is hot (test: _______), add the bratwursts and cook until the outsides are browned. When the bratwursts are browned, pour in the water and cover with lid, leaving the lid slightly cracked to release steam. Continue to cook for around 10 minutes or until reaching a core temperature of 160 degrees. Remove from the pan and leave to cool on a plate.

(2) Cut the vegetables into strips and add them all to the pan along with salt.

(3) Cook until soft and they have some color. Spread the vegetables out to the edges of the pan.

(4) Cut the bratwursts in half lengthwise and add them back to the pan cut side down.

(5) Cook on that side until nicely browned and then toss together with the vegetables. Add two bratwurst halves to each toasted hoagie bun and serve hot.


Dean Henry is a student at Ozarks Technical Community College. He plans to become a teacher.

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