Ginger Beer Brats with Grilled Cilantro Lime SlawFriday, March 27, 2015
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Johnsonville. All content and opinions are mine.
With basketball tournaments underway, Johnsonville asked me to put my spin on the classic "Brat Crock Hot Tub," the traditional method of simmering grilled brats in beer. I've been meaning to do a lot more experimenting with crock pot recipes, so I was up for the challenge. Not to mention, I've loved bratwurst ever since living in Germany as a kid. A hot bratwurst sandwiched between warm brötchen, slathered with good mustard is hard to beat. For that reason, I wanted to do something completely different and unexpected. I turned to the islands for some flavor inspiration and came up with a fun combination that would make a great addition to any indoor tailgating party!
If you search for crock pot bratwurst and beer recipes, they all generally have the same idea. Grill or sear the sausages and then simmer them in the crock pot with beer and onions until cooked through. Sometimes sauerkraut is also added. The brats can then stay warm in the crock pot until served. Simple enough. As the brats cook, they absorb all of the flavor from the beer and whatever else is in the liquid, so I really wanted to up the ante and add some ingredients that packed more of punch. My first decision was to veer outside of the typical beer choices, as I settled on ginger beer. You can use a non-alcoholic or alcoholic ginger beer for this recipe, or you can use a good quality ginger ale - find one made with real ginger and natural sweeteners. With ginger as the base of my flavor profile, I enhanced it with some ingredients that will be familiar if you've ever made a pot of Jamaican rice and peas. Thyme, garlic, allspice berries and a scotch bonnet pepper all simmer along with the onions and ginger beer, making a super flavorful bath for those brats.
You've gotta have some good accompaniments for brats, and instead of sauerkraut I wanted to use cabbage in a different way. A cool, tangy cilantro lime slaw was in order. At the last minute, I had an epiphany and threw the cabbage on the grill to add some smoky flavor. I finished things off with a curried mango chutney instead of the traditional mustard. Feel free to make your own or use a store bought chutney. If you're interested in making it yourself someday, I'll have my own recipe featured on my blog in the near future!
Lightly oil the grates and grill the cabbage until slightly wilted and charred in spots. Season with salt and pepper while it's on the grill.