#BucketList alert. Now you can make your own beer brats from scratch with this homemade bratwurst recipe and how-to video.
Sure I can go to the grocery and buy a pack of bratwurst, but because I truly love to cook and I love to learn the craft of making things from scratch, I set out to learn how to make homemade bratwursts.
Smithfield Brand flew me out to their headquarters to teach me the history of their company, and while I was there, I also learned how to make brats. #BucketList checked.
It’s actually a simple process of grinding pork shoulder; mixing it with spices, beer and water; and stuffing it into casings. I left that trip planning to make some, but I never got around to it. Then, PS Seasoning & Spices reached out to me and asked me to try their sausage making kit. Sold! That was the motivation I needed.
They sent me enough seasoning to make 25 pounds, but I went with a more bashful 5 pounds, which yielded a respectable 20 brats. I started with a 7.3-pound bone-in pork butt that I picked up from Wal-Mart, and I sliced it into 2-inch cubes, removing the bone and excess fat.
How much fat you remove is really up to you. I carved out the noticeably large segments and the pieces of harder fat. In the end, I was left with 5 pounds of pork. As for the bone, I threw it in a pot of baked beans.
The amount of bratwurst seasoning you need per pound varies, depending on the seasoning blend you use. The Sassy Honey, calls for 1/3 cup to every pound, but some blends may only need 1 tablespoon per pound. This handy conversion chart breaks it all down for you.
Since I had 5 pounds of meat, I used 1 1/2 cups of the Sassy Honey BBQ seasoning. The PS Seasoning & Spices bratwurst recipe also calls for water. Instead of just water, I decided to add beer. Because, come on, who doesn’t love a good beer brat. Plus, that’s what I learned at Smithfield.
They poured in a healthy amount of Yuengling, a traditional lager brewed in Pennsylvania at America’s oldest brewery. For this batch, I added 1/3 cup beer and 1/4 cup water.
Keep your meat cold
When making any type of sausage, it’s important to keep your meat cold. You want the fat to stay solid. When it goes through the grinding and stuffing process, the friction creates heat. If the meat isn’t ice cold, the fats will start to melt. That can result in loss of flavor and moisture.
So you’re going to want to freeze your meat three times during this process. After you cut the pork into chunks, freeze it for 30 minutes. After you pass it through the first grind, freeze it for 30 minutes. And, after you do the second grind and mix in the beer and seasonings, freeze it for 30 minutes.
Unless you’re making bratwurst patties, you’ll need some casings. I prefer using natural casings that are preserved in salt. In order to remove all of that salt, you have to soak the casings for a good hour. This also helps make them really pliable.
Casing the brats
For me, the grinding and seasoning are the easy parts of making sausage. The casing however, is a little more challenging.
Some things I’ve learned along the way:
Keep the casing moist. Grease the horn before you slide the casing on, and then pat it down with some water. This will help it slide off as the meat fills the casing.
Before you tie the knot and start filling the casing, let a little meat come out of the horn. This will prevent you from getting a big pocket of air. Wipe off the meat that came out, tie the knot and push the casing back on the horn. (Watch the video below)
Gently push the bratwurst back toward the horn as if fills. This will help avoid air pockets.
Don’t push it back too hard, however, or you’ll over stuff it and the casing may tear. The meat needs a little breathing room.
Do the twist
Once you have a long tube of brats, twist them off into individual sausages. Start by twisting away from you. Move down about 6 inches and twist toward you. Repeat this back and forth twist, until you get to the end. Then, take a pair of scissors and snip through the twist.
If you notice any air pockets, just grab a toothpick and pierce the casings a few times to release that excess. At this point, you can refrigerate the brats for a few days or freeze them for a few months.
Soak the hog casings in water according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Cut the pork shoulder into 2-inch cubes, trimming away excess fat and the bone. Freeze for 30 minutes.
Pass through a sausage grinder. Freeze 30 minutes.
Grind again. Combine with seasoning, beer and water. Freeze 30 minutes.
Grease the sausage stuffer horn. Slide the casing onto the horn. Place the ground meat into the hopper. When it reaches the tip of the horn, tie the casing into a knot. Continue stuffing the casing. Tie the other end in a knot.
Twist the bratwurst into links. Start by twisting away from you. Move down six inches and twist away from you. Repeat the back and forth twist.
Use scissors to cut into links at the point where you created the twist. If you notice any air pockets, pierce them with a toothpick.
Heat the grill to 350F degrees. Grill turning occasionally, until the internal temperature reaches 165F degrees.