In my wanderings around town lately I’ve heard many people bemoaning the end of summer and the cooler weather that’s settling in. I smile and say nothing, knowing that my opinion is in the minority currently. But when someone comments on the “end of all the really good summer food” I can’t keep quiet. Just because it gets colder doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some of your favorite summer foods! In my family we have ALWAYS grilled over the winter. We make sure we have a sheltered spot for the grill and go for it! Here in South Dakota that may have to change because the wind is so severe, but that’s ok. Sometimes instead of being the familiar, char-grilled food we’re accustomed to, our favorite summer foods must get a wardrobe change. Enter: Sticky Sausages. I found the original recipe on a blog from the UK and changed it to work for my family. The original called for English or Irish bangers- sadly thin on the ground here. Instead, I use bratwurst. They work perfectly! You can even play around with flavored brats if you want. Find your favorite and use it. You may have to buy some extras during the summer and freeze them though. I know in Colorado they really only sell brats at a good price during the summer. Here is South Dakota there are so many people of German and Polish decent it’s not a problem.
Let’s get started. Here’s what you’ll need:
You could use pancake syrup instead of real maple syrup if that’s all you could get. It would certainly be cheaper. But it would add a little too much sweetness and it’s… well… fake. So if you can, use real maple syrup.
Start by dicing your bacon. Pictured is half a pound of bacon. I take that half pound and just start slicing- just the way it is. I get thin strips- like these:
You don’t want the bacon really crispy for this. There are two reasons for that: 1) Crunchy bacon throws off the texture of the final dish and 2) The fonde on the bottom of the pan would burn by the end and no one wants burned-bacon-flavored brats. Yuck.
While the bacon is cooking, mix your sauce ingredients. If you heat the honey you’ll have an easier time of it- especially since the other ingredients are cold. You can do that in the measuring cup if you use a glass one or you can heat it in the bowl you’re making the sauce in. I use a metal bowl to mix the sauce, so I heated the honey in a glass measuring cup. Anyway, whisk the sauce together.
The mustard won’t want to fully incorporate, and that’s ok. Once you heat the whole thing it will smooth out. Once the bacon is done, empty the pan. Personally, I remove the bacon and strain the drippings into a container that I keep in the fridge to use for cooking other things. Why waste what you’ve already paid for?? Once your pan is empty, bring some chicken broth, beer, or ale to a boil. I can’t tell you how much. You’ll want it to come up to almost the top of the brats, like so…
I used about 2 cups of broth for 6 brats. Now put a lid on this and let the brats boil for about 5 minutes, then turn the brats, put the cover back on, and cook for another 5 minutes. Then you can drain off the liquid.
Pitiful looking, I know. The brats will be pale and a bit sickly looking, but they will be at least mostly cooked through and that’s what’s important. And we’re about to fix the pale and sickly problem. Put a little of the bacon fat back into the pan (or oil if you’ve thrown that beautiful bacon grease out already) and put it over medium heat. Once hot, add the brats back in and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side (I do top and bottom rather than trying to hold the brats upright to get the backs). You’ll end up with this:
Aren’t those handsome? Now we set those beauties aside and use the very same pan to boil the sauce. Pour the mixture into the pan and set over medium heat. Bring it to a boil and stir fairly regularly. You’re dealing with a sauce with a high sugar content, so it will burn if you put it over high heat or don’t give it a good stir pretty often.
It will bubble up in the pan- don’t worry. You’re using a big pan so it won’t boil over. Cook this until it’s thickened. How long that takes depends on your stove and a lot of other things. So keep an eye on it when you stir it and when it’s a bit thicker than when you started, add the bacon and brats back in. Stir everything around so the brats are coated and heated through again and then take the pan off the heat and let the whole thing sit and cool. You’re dealing with a molten sugar mixture- IT WILL BURN YOU BADLY if you try to eat it right away. Let the pan sit for about 10 minutes before you even try to serve these. Even then it will be hot, so be careful.
Get yourself some good rolls and load them up…
Caramelized onions are wonderful on these brats, but I prefer the sharp contrast of raw onion. Ron and the kids prefer theirs straight up. Feel free to play around and use what you like. I keep talking about the fact that you’re cooking a sugar mixture and, while it’s true that there are 2 super sweet substances in the sauce, these sticky sausages are NOT as sweet as you would think. The bacon, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard add a deep, beautiful savoriness that tames the sweetness. These really aren’t any sweeter than your average honey baked ham. And they are just perfect for an autumn get together of any kind. You can multiply this recipe as you need to and keep the whole thing warm in a foil covered pan in a low oven (about 180-200F) or on very low heat.
So just because summer is (finally) drawing to a close, it doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to fun foods! All you have to do is dress them differently. Kind of like putting away the sundresses and sandals and getting out the hoodies and boots :-)
6 Bratwurst or Similar Type Sausages
1/2 LB Bacon, diced
5 Oz Honey
1/4 C Real Maple Syrup
3 T Soy Sauce
1 T Dijon Mustard
6-8 Shakes Worcestershire Sauce
*Fry bacon until just done. Drain (reserve the drippings to cook with later) and set aside.
* While bacon is cooking, mix the sauce ingredients together. Don’t worry if the mustard won’t whisk in.
*Add raw brats to pan over medium heat.
*Pour broth, beer, ale, or a mixture of those over the brats, coming just up to the top. You don’t have to cover the brats.
*Cover the pan and bring to a boil.
*Boil 5 minutes, turn, and boil another 5 minutes.
*Remove brats and drain the pan. Do not wash the pan.
*Add bacon fat to the pan, to coat the bottom in a thin layer over medium heat.
* Put the brats back in and cook about 3-4 minutes on each side, until they are a deep brown on both sides.
*Remove the brats to a plate and set aside.
*Into the same, unwashed pan, pour the sauce ingredients.
* Cook, stirring regularly, until the mixture thickens.
*Add the brats and the bacon back to the pan and stir to coat and heat the sausages through.
* Take the pan off the heat and let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.