There is nothing more Wisconsin than bratwurst (ok well maybe cheese) so for this week’s One Local Summer challenge I decided I would make bratwurst. I am a huge fan of the Big Three Wisconsin brartwurst makers (Johnsonville, Usinger’s, and Klement’s) but I picked up some incredible smoked lamb brats from Greek Acres Farms at the Waukesha Farmers’ Market and decided to use those. The thing I like about these lamb brats is their versatility. Regular brats taste best when served on a bun with some nice mustard. These lamb brats taste great in all kinds of applications. They are a great sausage to use in cassoulet (maybe try them in this version) and can be used in place of smoked Spanish style chorizo. They are awesome on pizza too.
Instead of the traditional condiments (mustard, onions, kraut) I wanted to use some additional local ingredients. Fennel appeared for the first time at the Farmers’ Market last weekend so I used some of the fronds and the stalks closest to the bulb and chopped them into fine pieces. I added some of my own preserved lemons (also finely chopped) made from Alfred Portale’srecipe in his excellent book “Simple Pleasures.” (Recipe can be found here) To that I added some harissa, extra virgin olive oil, fresh mint, salt, and sugar and mixed it up. I also had some tomato jam (made from this recipe) I made from tomatoes from my garden from last season sitting in the freezer so I thawed that out as an extra condiment.
These brats were phenomenal. The richness of the smoked sausage was nicely balanced by the acidity and spice in the fennel relish, which also added a nice crunch. The cumin, cinnamon, cloves, and crushed red peppers in the tomato jam also went great with the lamb.
I enjoyed these with a nice bottle of Capitol Brewing’s Wild Rice beer. It might not be as good as the Minocqua Brewing Company’s Wild Rice Lager, but its still a great, easy drinking beer.
Note: The photo above shows one brat with each of the toppings but after one bite of each I decided that they would be best with all of the toppings on each one.
Jeff – that sounds fantastic! I actually ordered brats from Usingers a couple of years ago because Marcus had never had a “real” one. He found out what he had been missing.
I took some pics with my cell phone but I am having some sync issues and cannot get them off the phone. Maybe I’ll just e-mail them to myself.
Fennel is delicious on so many things. Your tomato jam recipe looks really good.