Bratwurst is a type of sausage closely associated with the nation of Germany, where it originated. In addition to being served throughout Germany in numerous regional variations, it is also popular in areas of the world with large German populations. The sausage tends to be heavily spiced, and is traditionally served with mustard and a hard roll, although it is served differently in some places. Many grocery stores and butchers carry bratwurst, and it is also possible to order German sausage through a specialty supplier.
In German, brat means “finely chopped meat,” while wurst means “sausage.” Pork is the traditional meat in this sausage, although beef and veal may be used as well. Often, it is made with a mixture of meats. Bratwurst is heavily spiced with things like marjoram, cardamom, nutmeg, celery seeds, pepper, ginger, and other regional ingredients. The spicy sausage mixture is forced into casings and is typically grilled or fried before serving.
Like many European sausages, bratwurst is not usually cured, which means that it needs to be cooked before it is served. In some cases, it may be pre-cooked and canned, so that cooks can simply lightly heat it before serving. This type tends to have an inferior flavor, and it should be avoided if fresh bratwurst is available. When consumers purchase fresh sausage, they make sure to check the expiration date to ensure that the meat is good.
In Germany, bratwurst is served with spicy mustard and a hard roll, along with a side of sauerkraut. Many German beers complement the heavy, spicy sausage very well, and bratwurst and a beer is a common German lunch as a result. Outside of Germany, the sausage may be served with an assortment of other sides on breads ranging from soft white rolls to whole wheat buns. Toppings like cheese, relish, and onions may be added outside of Germany as well.
Different parts of Germany all have unique recipes for bratwurst, making it difficult to generalize about an appearance common to all of the sausages. They can range in size from small to jumbo, and can be white to dark brown, commonly with dark flecks of spice. Like all fresh meats, bratwurst should be kept refrigerated until use, and it should be thoroughly cooked, since the fine chopping process can introduce bacteria. Before cooking it, cooks should make sure to puncture it with a fork so that it does not explode in the pan from pressure.